Julian Assange appeals to High Court against extradition order

London: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is appealing against the British’s government decision to order his extradition to the US.

The appeal was filed on Friday (London time) at the High Court, the latest twist in a decade-long legal saga sparked by his website’s publication of classified US documents. No further details about the appeal were immediately available.

A supporter of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange protest outside the Home Office in London, on Friday.Credit:AP

Assange’s supporters staged protests before his 51st birthday this weekend, with his wife Stella Assange among people who gathered outside the British Home Office to call for his release from prison.

The Australian has battled in British courts for years to avoid being sent to the US, where he faces 17 charges of espionage and one charge of computer misuse.

American prosecutors say he helped US Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning steal classified diplomatic cables and military files that WikiLeaks later published, putting lives at risk. Manning was pardoned by the president Barack Obama.

A detail from the Interpol website showing the notice for the arrest of Julian Assange on December 6, 2010.Credit:Getty Images

To his supporters, Assange is a secrecy-busting journalist who exposed US military wrongdoing in Iraq and Afghanistan.

A British court ruled in April that he could be sent to face trial in the US, sending the case to the UK government for a decision. Home Secretary Priti Patel signed an order on June 17 authorising Assange’s extradition.

The Australian government has been under mounting pressure to intervene, but last month Prime Minister Anthony Albanese rejected calls for him to publicly demand that Washington drop its prosecution of Assange.

Assange’s supporters and lawyers maintain he was acting as a journalist and is entitled to American First Amendment protections of freedom of speech. They argue that the case is politically motivated, that he would face inhumane treatment and be unable to get a fair trial in the US.

Assange remains in London’s high-security Belmarsh Prison, where he has been since he was arrested in 2019 for skipping bail during a separate legal battle. Before that, he spent seven years inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London to avoid extradition to Sweden to face allegations of rape and sexual assault.

Sweden dropped the sex crimes investigations in November 2019 because so much time had elapsed, but British judges have kept Assange in prison pending the outcome of the extradition case.


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