Judge sends Assange’s delivery decision to the British government

London — A British judge on Wednesday officially approved Julian Assange’s delivery to the United States in the face of alleged espionage. The founder of WikiLeaks still has a means of legal appeal, but the case now seeks a decision from the British Interior Minister.

An order to end the long-standing deportation battle was issued last month after the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom denied permission to appeal against a lower court ruling that Assange could be deported.

When Assange saw in a video link from Belmarsh Prison, Judge Paul Goldspring issued an order at a brief hearing at the Magistrates’ Court in Westminster, and his supporters demanded that he be released. Gathered outside the court.

Home Secretary Priti Patel decides whether to allow delivery.

The move has exhausted Assange’s legal options, which have long sought to avoid trials in the United States on charges related to WikiLeaks’ release of a huge pile of classified documents more than a decade ago. not.

His lawyer has four weeks to submit to Patel and can also appeal to the High Court.

Assange’s lawyer Mark Summers told the court that the legal team needed a “serious submission.”

The United States handed over Assange to British authorities and demanded that he be tried on charges of 17 spying and one computer misuse. U.S. prosecutors say Assange has endangered his life by illegally helping U.S. Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning steal classified diplomatic cables and military files that WikiLeaks later published. increase.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s supporters have a placard when they meet outside the Magistrates’ Court in London on April 20, 2022. (AlastairGrant / AP Photo)

Assange’s 50-year-old supporters and lawyers are entitled to the first amendment of freedom of speech to publish documents that expose U.S. military misconduct in Iraq and Afghanistan, where he is acting as a journalist. Claims to be. They claim that his case was a political motive.

A judge in the British District Court initially dismissed the US extradition request because Assange could commit suicide if detained under harsh US prison conditions. US officials later provided assurance that the founder of WikiLeaks would not face the harsh treatment that his lawyer said would endanger his physical and mental health.

In December, the High Court overturned the lower court’s ruling, stating that the US promise was sufficient to ensure that Assange was treated humanely. The Supreme Court in March dismissed Assange’s attempt to challenge the ruling.

Assange’s lawyer said he could face up to 175 years in prison if he was convicted in the United States, but U.S. officials say the sentence is likely to be much lower. I am saying.

Assange has been detained in the UK’s safer Belmarsh prison in London since 2019, when he was arrested for skipping bail in another court battle. Prior to that, he spent seven years at the Ecuadorian embassy in London to avoid handing over to Sweden to face allegations of rape and sexual assault.

Last month, Assange and his partner, Stella Morris, got married in a prison ritual.

Jill Laures

Associated Press