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Montevideo, April 24th 2024 - 18:54 UTC

 

 

Assange escapes extradition to US for now, pending assurances

Wednesday, March 27th 2024 - 18:28 UTC
Full article 2 comments
Assange was said to be in poor physical and mental health after over 12 years excluded from the outside world Assange was said to be in poor physical and mental health after over 12 years excluded from the outside world

A UK Court decided on Tuesday that Wikileaks founder Julian Assange may not be extradited to face espionage charges in the United States, at least until assurances are received from Washington that the death penalty will not be sought. It was no legal victory for Assaange's supporters who claimed that the only acceptable outcome would be ”no extradition” at all. The British government signed an extradition order in June 2022, which Assange has appealed.

“Today’s decision is astounding,” said Assange’s wife and former solicitor Stella. “The courts recognize that Julian is exposed to a flagrant denial of his freedom-of-expression rights, that he is being discriminated against on the basis of nationality as an Australian, and that he remains exposed to the death penalty,“ she added.

“And yet, what the courts have done has been to invite a political intervention from the United States, to send a letter saying, it’s all okay,” insisted Mrs. Stella Assange who called Tuesday’s decision “an attack on Julian’s life.”

”The Biden administration should not issue assurances. They should drop this shameful case, which should never have been brought,“ Mrs Assange also argued.

A British judge in January 2021 ruled that Assange should not be extradited to the US because he was likely to commit suicide in near total isolation.

London’s High Court ruled that it would seek assurances from the Eastern District of Virginia court that Assange would not be subject to the death penalty and granted the same rights as a US citizen under the US Constitution’s First Amendment, which protects free speech and freedom of the press.

Justice Jeremy Johnson wrote that “If assurances are not given then we will grant [Assange] leave to appeal without a further hearing … If assurances are given, then we will give the parties an opportunity to make further submissions before we make a final decision on the application for leave to appeal.” Judge Victoria Sharp concurred.

Tuesday's ruling meant that the legal saga, which has dragged on for more than a decade, will continue with Assange still incarcerated at London's high-security Belmarsh Prison, where he has spent the last five years.

The judges also said that a hearing will be held on May 20 if the US makes those submissions.

Assange's supporters claim that he is a journalist who exposed US military wrongdoings in Iraq and Afghanistan and is therefore entitled to First Amendment immunity because he acted in the public interest while his prosecution is politically motivated. Stella said he was ”being persecuted because he exposed the true cost of war in human lives.”

The US government said Assange's actions went beyond journalism by soliciting, stealing, and indiscriminately publishing classified government documents that endangered innocent lives.

Assange, 52, an Australian computer expert, has been indicted in the US on charges over Wikileaks' publication in 2010 of hundreds of thousands of classified documents. Prosecutors believe he conspired with US Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to hack into a Pentagon computer and release secret diplomatic cables and military files.

Assange faces 17 espionage counts and one charge of computer misuse. If convicted, his lawyers say, he could receive a prison term of up to 175 years. He is said to be in poor physical and mental shape after seven years in self-exile in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London plus five years in a maximum-security prison. He was first arrested in 2010 in London at the request of Sweden, which wanted to question him about rape and sexual assault allegations made by two women. In 2012, he skipped bail and sought shelter inside Ecuador's diplomatic mission, from where he was evicted in April 2019 and subsequently detained for breaching bail. Sweden eventually dropped the sex crimes charges given the time elapsed.

Assange’s friends and advocates insist that seven years at the Ecuadorean embassy and five more at Belmarsh has been punishment enough. “Prominent human rights organizations, like Amnesty International, have repeatedly denounced that assurances are inherently unreliable. The British justice keeps hiding behind the fig leaf of ‘assurances’,” Italian investigative journalist Stefania Maurizi from the newspaper Il Fatto Quotidiano, who has worked with WikiLeaks, told Al Jazeera. “The British justice is killing him slowly using purely legal means,” she stressed.

 

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  • imoyaro

    Great news, he's deteriorating. They don't want to execute him, they want to continue the process. Slow but sure... ;)

    Mar 27th, 2024 - 07:24 pm -1
  • Terence Hill

    ”The indictment of Assange is a blueprint for making journalists into felons By Glenn Greenwald
    The U.S. government unveiled an 18-count indictment against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, charging him under the 1917 Espionage Act for his role in the 2010 publication of a trove of secret documents relating to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and diplomatic communications regarding dozens of nations. So extreme and unprecedented are the indictment’s legal theories and likely consequences that it shocked and alarmed even many of Assange’s most virulent critics.
    With these new charges, the Trump administration is aggressively and explicitly seeking to obliterate the last reliable buffer protecting journalism in the United States from being criminalized, a step that no previous administration, no matter how hostile to journalistic freedom, was willing to take. The U.S. government has been eager to prosecute Assange since the 2010 leaks.
    The argument offered by both the Trump administration that Assange isn’t a journalist at all and thus deserves no free press protections. But this claim overlooks the indictment’s real danger and, worse, displays a wholesale ignorance of the First Amendment. Press freedoms belong to everyone, not to a select, privileged group of citizens called “journalists.” Empowering prosecutors to decide who does or doesn’t deserve press protections would restrict “freedom of the press” to a small, cloistered priesthood of privileged citizens designated by the government as “journalists.” The First Amendment was written to avoid precisely that danger.
    In a 1977 Supreme Court opinion documenting the limitless scope of the constitutional free press guarantee, Chief Justice Warren Burger wrote: “In short, the First Amendment does not ‘belong’ to any definable category of persons or entities: It belongs to all who exercise its freedoms.”
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2019/05/28/indictment-assange-is-blueprint-making-journalists-into-felons/#comm

    Mar 28th, 2024 - 10:25 am -1
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