Julian, founder of WikiLeaks Assange faces a reduced number of options after the UK government approved his extradition to the United States on Friday. The decision is the latest in a long legal battle that began when former military intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning leaked secret government documents about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, which Assange post to WikiLeaks in 2010.
Friday’s decision, passed by UK Home Secretary Priti Patel, is the latest in a series of legal battles that Assange has lost in his bid to remain in the UK. It is a blow to Assange, who has spent the last decade hiding in the London embassy in Ecuador or in a UK prison. And its increasingly likely prosecution in U.S. courts creates a precarious moment for First Amendment rights and the ability of the media to publish material considered a threat to national security.
“This is a dark day for freedom of the press and for British democracy,” he told WikiLeaks in a statement. statement shared on Twitter. “Julian did nothing wrong. He did not commit any crime and he is not a criminal. He is a journalist and an editor,” Wikileaks said.
“Assange may have at least one more appeal, so he may not be on a flight to the United States yet,” said Trevor Timm, executive director of the Freedom of Press group, in a statement. “But this is a more worrying fact in a case that could upset the rights of journalists in the 21st century.” The charges against Assange include 17 under the Espionage Act and one under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.
Friday’s ruling overturns a December 2021 ruling that Assange could not be extradited because putting him in jail in the United States could increase his risk of suicide. The judge has accepted U.S. assurances that Assange will not face isolation and will have access to psychological treatment.
“The UK courts have not ruled that Mr Assange’s extradition would be oppressive, unfair or an abuse of process,” a British Home Office spokesman told WIRED. “Nor have they found that extradition would be inconsistent with his human rights, including his right to a fair trial and freedom of expression, and that while he is in the United States he will be treated appropriately, even with regard to your health “.
Assange’s legal team has 14 days to appeal, according to the Interior Ministry. His next step, now that the defense’s argument based on Assange’s suicide risk has been rejected, would probably be to focus on the other arguments his team has made against extradition, such as now the threat to press freedom and political bias against Assange of U.S. law enforcement, since Assange has been a thorn in the side of the U.S. executive for more than a decade.
“I think there are a lot of roads here,” says Naomi Colvin, director of the UK / Ireland advocacy group Blueprint for Free Speech. He points out that even if these additional arguments fail to influence the UK judicial system, Assange can also appeal to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France, arguing that extradition would violate the UK’s commitment to the treaties. of human rights. Alternatively, Assange’s team could demand a judicial review that would specifically challenge the political side of Patel’s decision, Colvin adds.