Julian Assange can appeal extradition to the US, London High Court rules

Let me go, Brandon

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange can appeal his extradition to the US from the UK, the High Court of England and Wales ruled Monday.

Assange, an Australian citizen, has spent the past five years in a London prison as Uncle Sam has sought to haul him over to America where he faces 17 espionage-related charges and one charge of computer misuse. If convicted, he faces up to 175 years behind bars.

The allegations stem from Assange publishing on the WikiLeaks website a mountain of US government documents provided by Chelsea Manning, who at the time, circa 2010, was a US Army intelligence analyst.

Manning gave Assange various collections of classified data, including hundreds of thousands of US diplomatic cables that formed the basis of the Cablegate series on WikiLeaks, and details about the Pentagon's actions in Iraq and Afghanistan including potential war crimes committed by American forces.

The WikiLeaker-in-chief has fought tooth and nail to avoid trial in America following his decision to publish. Now High Court judges in the UK capital will allow Assange to appeal his extradition "on the grounds that Julian will be discriminated against and excluded from constitutional protections under the First Amendment," his wife Stella told reporters after a hearing on Monday.

"The judges obviously saw the problem here: The US is applying its secrecy laws … internationally and saying at the same time if you are not a US citizen if you are abroad you will not have access to constitutional protections," she said.

In June 2022, the UK government agreed to extradite Assange, and the WikiLeak supremo has been seeking to overturn that decision.

Monday's ruling allows his appeal to move forward, and means Assange's legal team can argue his First Amendment rights to free speech under the US Constitution will be trampled if prosecuted and convicted. Essentially he is saying that he, as a journalist, obtaining and disseminating en masse the classified intelligence leaked by Manning should be shielded from prosecution by free speech protections.

In March, British judges sought "satisfactory assurances" [PDF] from the US government that Assange would receive the same constitutional protections as if he were a US citizen, that his sentencing would not be prejudiced during a trial because of his Australian nationality, and that he would not face the death penalty.

The US government reportedly sent those assurances a month later, though they apparently weren't sufficient for the High Court in London.

Also in April, US President Joe Biden said he was "considering" the Australian government's request to end America's bid to prosecute Assange. This set off all kinds of speculation that the Feds were looking to avoid a high-publicity trial of Assange, who supporters consider a free-speech activist. ®

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