Computer vision

WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange Can Appeal His Extradition to the US, British Court Says

WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange Can Appeal His Extradition to the US, British Court Says

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange can appeal his extradition to the United States, a British court has said.

Two judges at the High Court in London today said Assange can officially challenge his extradition order from the United Kingdom in the long-running dispute over the leaking and publication of military secrets.

Following a two-hour hearing, at which Assange was not present due to health issues, the judges allowed Assange to appeal his extradition on freedom of speech and freedom of expression grounds. The decision, the latest in a years-long legal battle, follows a UK High Court ruling in May that asked the US government to provide more “assurances” about the conditions Assange would face if he was extradited. In that instance, the court said it required more convincing that Assange would have free speech protections, his Australian nationality would not prejudice him in any trial, and he would not later be sentenced to death.

The judges, Victoria Sharp and Jeremy Johnson, have now considered arguments from both sides on the three issues and decided to allow Assange to appeal the “assurances” about how his trial would be conducted and First Amendment grounds. (Assange’s team did not contest assurances from the US government that he would not be given the death penalty.)

The decision to grant an appeal, which will be seen as a partial win for Assange, means the long-running saga will likely extend over months to come.

Assange faces 18 charges in the US, all but one under the Espionage Act, for publishing classified information related to the US-led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. A conviction under the act would require prosecutors to demonstrate that Assange not only obtained national defense information but released it with the intent to injure the United States—a major hurdle for US prosecutors in a case against an award-winning journalist.

Assange’s attorneys say he could face up to 175 years in prison, though US prosecutors have claimed publicly that they expect him to serve no more than five.

Prosecutors in the US allege that Assange, 52, overstepped his role as a journalist in online conversations with a source, Chelsea Manning, a former Army intelligence analyst, by allegedly offering to help the then-22-year-old private crack a hashed password that could have, hypothetically, furthered her illicit access to a classified Defense Department network.

Manning was arrested in 2010 on suspicion of having leaked purportedly classified footage of a US airstrike in Baghdad. The damning video, which came to be known as Collateral Murder, depicted a helicopter attack in which at least 12 civilians, including two Reuters journalists, were gunned down. (The Pentagon later assessed that the footage was not, in fact, classified.)

Manning, who spent more than a year and a half in pretrial confinement, confessed in 2013 to leaking more than 750,000 documents. A third of the cache were diplomatic cables that, while portrayed as highly damaging by the Obama administration, were in large part simply embarrassing for US diplomats, who wrote candidly about the behavior of foreign leaders in their reports back home.

WikiLeaks' Julian Assange Can Appeal His Extradition to the US, British Court Says

Source link