By Joe Lauria
A single judge on the High Court of England and Wales has rejected imprisoned WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange’s nearly year-old request to appeal the British decision to extradite him to the United States to stand trial on espionage and computer intrusion charges.
Assange’s legal team has one last recourse in the U.K. and has five days to request a hearing before the court.
Stella Assange, Assange’s wife, issued this statement on Thursday:
“On Tuesday next week my husband Julian Assange will make a renewed application for appeal to the High Court. The matter will then proceed to a public hearing before two new judges at the High Court and we remain optimistic that we will prevail and that Julian will not be extradited to the United States where he faces charges that could result in him spending the rest of his life in a maximum security prison for publishing true information that revealed war crimes committed by the U.S. government.”
The single judge on the court, Sir Jonathan Swift, issued the 3-page decision on Tuesday. It is not yet publicly available on the High Court’s website.
In December, Assange appealed to the European Court of Human Rights. The court could issue an emergency injunction to stop Assange’s extradition until it examines the case.
Assange initially won the case against extradition in the lower court based on his health and conditions of U.S. prisons. This was overturned by the High Court after the court accepted U.S. written assurances that Assange would not be mistreated in U.S. prisons.
An application from Assange to the U.K. Supreme Court to appeal that decision was not granted. In July last year Assange’s team filed a cross appeal to the High Court on eight grounds including that the prosecution was political and that it violated the U.S.-U.K. extradition treaty barring extradition for political offenses.
It was this application for appeal that Swift rejected 11 months later.
The UK High Court of Justice had WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange wait for nearly a year in detention just to issue a three-page decision that refuses to grant him a day in court to challenge extradition to the US for Espionage Act trial. How can this be called justice? https://t.co/wo6nsZrNiJ
— Kevin Gosztola (@kgosztola) June 8, 2023
The reaction from press freedom groups was swift.
“It is absurd that a single judge can issue a three-page decision that could land Julian Assange in prison for the rest of his life and permanently impact the climate for journalism around the world,” said Rebecca Vincent, director of campaigns at Reporters Without Borders.
Image: The High Court at the Royal Courts of Justice. (David Castor/Wikimedia Commons)