The United States’ appeal against the decision of a British court to reject the extradition of Julian Assange to that country, which accuses the WikiLeaks founder of leaking thousands of confidential documents, is held this Wednesday and Thursday in the High Court of London.
A decade later, Assange’s fate remains unclear
The court session, scheduled for 11.30 am, is held after the director of the WikiLeaks portal, Kristinn Hrafnsson, this week considered “totally unacceptable” that the court could rule in favor of the United States on its appeal. The appeal has been presented after the Westminster Magistrates Court (London) ruled last January against the delivery of Assange to the United States.
The judge rejected the extradition due to the health risk it would pose to the accused. “I have considered evidence about possible conditions in an American prison,” Vanessa Baraitser said in January, also referring to CIA statements citing Assange as a “hostile” person. Solitary confinement could seriously damage Assange’s mental health, which is prone to depression, the judge noted. “Assange’s mental situation is such that it would be oppressive to extradite him to the US.”
At the provisional hearing held in August, Judge Timothy Holroyde granted the United States permission to challenge the decision of Judge Baraitser of the London Magistrates Court, after she placed too much emphasis on a report prepared by the United States, according to the United States. doctor Michael Kopelman, who at the time indicated that the journalist had a recurrent depressive disorder. The US government considers that Assange is not “so sick” as to want to commit suicide if he is extradited.
Three key points could turn the tide in the long battle for the future of the WikiLeaks co-founder. One of them is an unprecedented package of assurances from the US that Assange would not be held under the strictest conditions of maximum security and that he could even serve time in his native Australia – probably the biggest challenge for his legal team. , according to The Guardian. Another is Assange’s state of health. The last is the apparent retraction of evidence by a witness in the US case, who now says that the testimony attributed to him by the FBI was “a mistake.”
Appeals to Biden
Icelandic journalist Hrafnsson has deemed it “totally unacceptable” that the London High Court could rule in favor of the United States. The mere possibility that the appeal will succeed would suppose, according to Hrafnsson, “a stain on the system of this country” while remarking that this hypothetical scenario would be “devastating for the United Kingdom, if the judge decides to reverse the decision of the Court of Justice. Magistrates “.
For her part, the director of international campaigns for Reporters Without Borders, Rebecca Vincent, regretted this Monday that calls on the president of the United States, Joe Biden, to abandon this case have been ignored.
“Joe Biden has had many, many opportunities to distance himself from this case … We have asked the Biden Administration not to continue. At any time the (US) Department of Justice could have simply closed the case,” he said.
In a statement issued this Monday, the Secretary General of Amnesty International (AI), Agnes Callamard, has considered that the case “raises concerns that go far beyond the fate of a single man, by endangering the freedom of the press and of expression”. “This false appeal should be rejected, these charges should be dropped, and Julian Assange should be released,” Callamard said.
The founder of WikiLeaks, who is imprisoned in the British high security prison in Belmarsh (London), faces 18 charges in the United States in relation to the leaks of his portal of thousands of confidential documents. The leaks exposed secrets about US actions in Iraq and Afghanistan, information about extrajudicial detentions at the Guantanamo prison and diplomatic cables that exposed human rights abuses around the world, among other things.
Assange, who has not been convicted of any crime, was arrested in 2019 after being forcibly removed from the Ecuadorian embassy in London, which withdrew his protection. There he had taken refuge in 2012, precisely trying to avoid his surrender to the United States, which finally, two years ago, requested his extradition.
Previously, he was under house arrest in England, up to a total of almost 11 years of confinement since in December 2010 he was arrested in London by the Police at the request of Sweden, who wanted to question him on a case of alleged sexual crimes of which he did not It was charged and it was eventually shelved.