US wins appeal over extradition of Julian Assange
The U.S. government has won an appeal at Britain's High Court over Julian Assange's extradition.
The British appellate court overturned a lower court's decision that the WikiLeaks founder's mental health was too fragile to withstand the U.S. criminal justice system. London's High Court ruled that U.S. assurances were sufficient to assure Assange's humane treatment. The high court ordered that a lower court judge refer Assange's extradition request to the interior minister of Britain for review. Priti Patel, who oversees U.K. law enforcement, will decide on Assange's extradition.
The high court ruled that "There is no reason why this court should not accept the assurances as meaning what they say,″-"There is no basis for assuming that the USA has not given the assurances in good faith."
Assange's attorneys will appeal to the U.K. Supreme Court. Currently, Assange is being held in London's high-security Belmarsh Prison. Until the outcome of the extradition case is known, he must remain in custody, according to the High Court. The United States appealed, challenging the notion that Assange's mental health made him too fragile to face the U.S. judicial system. Lawyers for the U.S. government argued Assange "has no history of serious and enduring mental illness" and does not meet the threshold of being so ill that he cannot resist harming himself. U.S. authorities claim that if Assange is extradited for prosecution, he would be eligible to serve any U.S. prison sentence he receives in Australia. In addition, the U.S. claimed that he would not be held at the supermax prison in Florence, Colorado, where the highest level of security is maintained.
The lower court judge denied the U.S. request to extradite Julian Assange over the publication of U.S. military documents and diplomatic cables by WikiLeaks. Among the records was evidence of U.S. war crimes. The exposure of war crimes changed how large segments of the population worldwide viewed the U.S. infamous war on terror, Afghanistan war, and Iraq war. While Assange did not leak or obtain any information himself, media outlets and academics elevated his persona as the face of Wikileaks. The U.S. government claims Wikileaks and Assange put lives in danger by sharing the leaks. However, they have not provided enough evidence to prove so. District Judge Vanessa Baraitser denied extradition on health grounds, saying the Australian citizen was likely to kill himself if held under harsh U.S. prison conditions.
Assange has been charged with 17 counts of espionage and one count of computer misuse; is in connection with the publication of thousands of leaked military and diplomatic documents by WikiLeaks. The charges carry a maximum sentence of 175 years in prison. Assange has been in prison since he was arrested in April 2019 for skipping bail during a separate legal conflict. Previously, he spent seven years holed up inside Ecuador's Embassy in London. In 2012, Assange requested protection in the embassy to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he was accused of rape and sexual assault. In November 2019, Sweden dropped the rape investigation. No U.S. officials or high ranking military personnel have been charged with any war crimes or crimes against humanity committed by the United States during its wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere, which has led to between 480,000 and 507,000 deaths.