For months, the United States has been fighting in British courts for the extradition of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. Does the case go to the Supreme Court? A groundbreaking decision is imminent.
London – In the legal tug of war over Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, a decision is to be made on Monday whether the legal dispute over his extradition to the United States will go to the next instance.
The High Court in London wants to announce at 10.45 a.m. (local time) whether it will follow the arguments of Assange’s lawyers who want to go before the British Supreme Court or whether it will prohibit an appeal. In that case, the decision on extradition to the US would be referred to the UK Home Office. Assange’s fiancee, Stella Moris, wanted to be there to make a statement.
allegations by the United States
The US judiciary wants to put Assange on trial for allegations of espionage. The native Australian faces up to 175 years in prison if convicted. He is accused of having stolen and published secret material from US military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan together with whistleblower Chelsea Manning, thereby endangering the lives of US informants. His supporters, on the other hand, see him as an investigative journalist who brought war crimes to light. The 50-year-old has been incarcerated in London’s Belmarsh high-security prison for more than two years.
Earlier this year, a British court barred Assange’s extradition to the United States on grounds of his mental health. However, the USA had doubted the corresponding medical reports, lodged an appeal and was also successful. An appeals court lifted the extradition ban last December. Assange now wants to have this decision reviewed by the Supreme Court.
If the appeal is rejected, that does not mean the end of the legal dispute, said WikiLeaks boss Kristinn Hrafnsson of the German Press Agency. The decision would then initially lie with British Home Secretary Priti Patel. However, if she agrees to the US extradition request, an appeal can also be made to the court.
“This could be the last chance to stop Julian Assange’s extradition to the US,” Rebecca Vincent, the London representative of the press freedom organization Reporters Without Borders, wrote on Twitter. “Whatever happens next, Britain also has a legal and moral responsibility.”
Assange’s relatives, especially his fiancée, are worried about his health. So far, his psychological well-being has been the priority, but the situation seems to be affecting him more and more physically. Shortly after the latest verdict, Moris announced that Assange had suffered a minor stroke. dpa