Julian Assange Wins Temporary Reprieve from Extradition to US

The founder of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, had his extradition from Britain to the United States halted on Tuesday after the London High Court ruled that the United States had to guarantee Assange would not be executed.

The 52-year-old Assange is being tried on 18 counts—all but one under the Espionage Act—by US authorities in connection with WikiLeaks’ well-publicized disclosure of sensitive diplomatic and military cables.

In February, Assange’s attorneys requested authorization to contest Britain’s decision to grant him extradition, as they continue a legal dispute that has lasted over 13 years in English courts.

In their ruling, two senior judges said he had a real prospect of successfully appealing against extradition on a number of grounds.

The court said in its written ruling that Assange arguably would not be entitled to rely on the First Amendment right to free speech as a non-U.S. national and that, while none of the existing charges carried the death penalty, he could later be charged with a capital offence such as treason, meaning it would be unlawful to extradite him.

The judges said Assange had pointed to a comment by former U.S. President Donald Trump who said in 2010, when discussing WikiLeaks, that “I think there should be like a death penalty or something”.

His case was at least arguable, the ruling said, citing “the calls for the imposition of the death penalty by leading politicians and other public figures”.

If the U.S. assurances were not forthcoming by April 16, then Assange would be granted permission to appeal, the judgment said. A further hearing has been scheduled for May 20, meaning his extradition – which his campaign team said could have been imminent depending on the ruling – has been put on hold.


“Today’s decision is astounding,” Assange’s wife, Stella Assange, said outside the court. “The (U.S. President Joe) Biden administration should not issue assurances, they should drop this shameful case that should never have been brought.”

Although Assange’s legal team was successful on some grounds, the court rejected his bid for an appeal on the basis that the case was politically motivated or that he would not receive a fair trial.

Assange’s many supporters hail him as an anti-establishment hero who is being persecuted, despite being a journalist, for exposing U.S. wrongdoing and alleged war crimes.

The U.S. says the WikiLeaks’ revelations imperilled the lives of their agents and there was no excuse for his criminality.

It has said Assange was charged for “indiscriminately and knowingly” publishing sources’ names and not his political opinions.

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Sydney Okafor

I am so passionate about this my profession as a broadcast journalist and voiceover artists and presently a reporter at TV360 Nigeria

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