WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange wins bid to appeal against US extradition

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Julian Assange has won his bid to appeal his extradition to the United States.

The Australian WikiLeaks founder, 52, was handed the victory by the UK’s High Court on Monday.

The infamous champion for transparency had been given permission to appeal only if the Biden administration was unable to provide the court with suitable assurances “that the applicant [Assange] is permitted to rely on the first amendment, that the applicant is not prejudiced at trial, including sentence, by reason of his nationality, that he is afforded the same first amendment [free speech] protections as a United States citizen, and that the death penalty is not imposed”.

Assange was indicted on 17 espionage charges and one charge of computer misuse related to his website’s publication of a series of classified US documents almost 15 years ago.

He is facing a maximum 175 years in prison.

Last month, President Biden revealed that his administration is “considering” Australia’s request to end the prosecution of Assange.

“We’re considering it,” Biden said in response to a question shouted by a reporter during a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida at the White House.

He spent seven years in self-exile in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London and on Thursday marks five years in the high-security Belmarsh Prison on the outskirts of the British capital.

WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Kristinn Hrafnsson called for “a political solution” to the prosecution of Assange, as supporters rallied in London to mark the fifth anniversary of his arrest there.

“This is a case that just should never have been started in the first place,” Mr Hrafnsson told AFP at the Wednesday afternoon at a rally in central London.

“The solution to this case where we are dealing with a political persecution is a political solution and a political push,” Hrafnsson said.

Washington has spent several years trying to extradite Assange – who was indicted on 17 charges of espionage and one charge of computer misuse – to face charges over WikiLeaks’ 2010 release of classified military and diplomatic files which related to the US-led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

American prosecutors said that he endangered lives.

Attempting to halt the extradition process, Assange has suffered a string of court losses in the long-running legal saga, which his supporters see as a battle for media freedom.

Campaign groups including Amnesty International and Reporters Without Borders have called for his release and denounced the prosecution under the 1917 Espionage Act, which has never been used over the publishing of classified information.

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