Assange files appeal to stop US extradition — Analysis
Lawyers tell a UK court the WikiLeaks co-founder is being “punished for his political opinions”
Julian Assange’s legal team filed an appeal on Friday to stop the WikiLeaks co-founder’s extradition to the US, where he faces espionage charges that carry a prison sentence of up to 175 years.
According to WikiLeaks, Assange’s lawyers filed “perfected grounds of appeal” before the UK High Court of Justice against the US government and UK Home Secretary Priti Patel, who approved the extradition of the Australian-born editor in mid-June.
The appeal argues that “Julian Assange is currently being tried and punished because of his political views.” while the US government “The core facts were misrepresented” of the case to the UK judiciary. The request to extradite WikiLeaks founder co-founder is against the applicable treaty between the US, UK and international law.
The document also reportedly contains some new evidence that has been compiled since the UK court ruled on Assange’s extradition in early 2021.
The editor’s wife, Stella Assange, said: “There is overwhelming evidence to prove that my husband was a victim of criminal abuse in the US.,” adding that the high court will now decide whether her husband is given the opportunity to make his case against the US before open court at the appeal.
In early June, the Wall Street Journal reported that Assange’s lawyers had filed two appeals to fight his extradition to the US, just a day before the deadline for the legal action was set to expire. However, the details of Assange’s appeal were not clear.
Assange is currently in prison since 2012. He sought asylum at the Ecuadorian Embassy, London in 2012 to avoid being extradited to Sweden. However, he was facing sexual assault charges that have been dropped. Ecuador revoked Assange’s asylum status in 2019, and the British police transferred him from the embassy to the maximum-security Belmarsh Prison, where he has remained ever since.
Initial refusal of a British court, outlining fears that Assange would face inhumane treatment, led to Assange being turned over to the US by the British. Later, Washington managed to convince the British judges that the journalist’s rights would be respected. As a result, UK Home Secretary Priti Patel rubber-stamped the WikiLeaks co-founder’s extradition to the US in mid-June.
Since 2010, Assange is a US target. WikiLeaks published a cache of classified documents detailing alleged war crimes by US forces in the conflict zones. He has since been accused of conspiring to hack Pentagon computers and is charged under America’s 1917 Espionage Act over publication of classified materials.
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