UK High Court rules in favor of the US to extradite Julian Assange
Despite an earlier ruling that blocked Assange's extradition, UK judges now say that they are "satisfied" by Washington's assurances
By News Desk - December 10 2021

Supporters of Julian Assange display signs and a banner, outside the Royal Courts of Justice in London, Britain. 10 December, 2021. (Photo credit: REUTERS/Henry Nicholls)

On 10 December the UK High Court overturned a ruling by a London District Judge that blocked the extradition of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to the US.

The decision opens the door for Assange to face espionage charges in the US relating to WikiLeaks’ release of vast troves of confidential US military records in 2010, which served as evidence of the many war crimes committed by US forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.

If found guilty, the journalist could be imprisoned for up to 175 years for his groundbreaking reporting. Nonetheless, Assange’s lawyers say they plan to appeal the decision by the High Court.

Judge Timothy Holroyde, who issued Friday’s ruling in favor of the US, said he was “satisfied” with the assurances given by Washington about the conditions of Assange’s detention. These include a “pledge” not to hold him in a so-called ADX maximum security prison in Colorado and to have Assange serve his sentence in Australia if convicted.

However, these assurances come with the caveat that Assange would not face those strictest measures “unless he committed an act in the future that required them.”

Stella Moris, Assange’s fiancee, referred to the ruling as “dangerous and misguided” and a “grave miscarriage of justice.”

“How can it be fair, how can it be right, how can it be possible, to extradite Julian to the very country which plotted to kill him?” Moris told reporters outside the Royal Courts of Justice, referring to a CIA plot to abduct and assassinate the Wikileaks founder.

The Russian government also condemned the ruling, with Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova calling it “shameful” before adding that “this political case against a journalist and public figure is another manifestation of the cannibalistic worldview of the Anglo-Saxon tandem.”

For their part, Reporters without Borders (RSF) issued a statement which said: “We condemn today’s decision, which will prove historic for all the wrong reasons … It is time to put a stop to this more than decade-long persecution once and for all. It is time to free Assange.”

WikiLeaks came to prominence in 2010 when it published a US military video depicting the indiscriminate murder of over a dozen people in the Iraqi suburb of New Baghdad in 2007 – including two Reuters news staff.

The website followed this up by releasing more than 250,000 classified cables from US embassies around the world, which often laid bare Washington’s highly critical appraisals of world leaders.

In 2012, Assange was granted political asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy in London by then-president Rafael Correa. He spent seven years in the small building before Correa’s predecessor, Lenin Moreno, broke international law and allowed UK police to drag Assange by force out of the diplomatic building in 2019.

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