Assange Wins Temporary Reprieve As Court Seeks US ‘Assurances’ Over Extradition

By Tyler Durden

Tuesday’s much-anticipated London High Court ruling has gone mostly in Julian Assange’s favor, as he has been granted permission to continue to appeal his extradition to the United States, where he would face espionage and related charges for publishing state secrets. However, this is not yet a ‘win’ for Assange and his team, but more of another delay.

The court ruled that the WikiLeaks founder will be not be extradited immediately and said the US still has opportunity to provide “satisfactory assurances” related to his grounds of appeal. What has happened Tuesday is tantamount to Assange’s ability to challenge the extradition request being slightly extended, and is a temporary reprieve, extending the whole process yet further.

But this is the part that is not looking good for Assange, as explained by WikiLeaks: “The court has given US Gov 3 weeks to give satisfactory assurances: That Mr. Assange is permitted to rely on the First Amendment to the US constitution; not prejudiced at trial by reason of his nationality; and that the death penalty is not imposed.”

A May 20 hearing which has been scheduled is expected to take up whether the US ‘assurances’ are satisfactory. An Al Jazeera correspondent has explained the decision as follows:

It was a highly nuanced decision in the end. The judges haven’t thrown out the grounds for an appeal hearing, they have essentially upheld them.

They basically said, “Yes, we understand that there is a basis here for an appeal – however, we are going to defer a decision on that until May 20”, when they called for a second hearing.

According to the judge’s statement, “We had an explicit statutory obligation not to order the applicant’s extradition if he could be sentenced to death for the offense concerned or if he could be charged with an extradition offense disclosed by the same facts in respect of which a sentence of death could be imposed.”

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The statement reads further, “If assurances are given, then we will give the parties an opportunity to make further submissions before we make a final decision on the application for leave to appeal.”

Stella Assange, his wife, has warned that if the court rules against Assange, he could be on a plane to US soil days following. He would be removed from the high security Belmarsh prison for a trial in the US on espionage-related charges and publishing state secrets, where a 175 year jail sentence would await him, likely at a federal ‘supermax’ prison.

WikiLeaks has been urging all Americans to put pressure on the Biden administration to drop its case against Assange by calling House representatives and telling them to support H.Res.934. The bill, introduced by Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) requests that the Biden White House halt the proceedings against Assange.

The bill reads: “This resolution expresses the sense of the House of Representatives that regular journalistic activities, including the obtainment and publication of information, are protected under the First Amendment and that the federal government should drop all charges against and attempts to extradite Julian Assange.”

Editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks Kristinn Hrafnsson has commented on what Assange’s prosecution and possible extradition means for the future of press freedoms.”It cannot be underestimated, the effect that it will have,” he said. “If an Australian citizen publishing in Europe can face prison time in the United States, that means no journalists anywhere are safe in the future.”

However, as we detailed last week, the Biden administration might be looking for a way to bring the 14-year long legal drama to an end. A last Wednesday WSJ report said, “The U.S. Justice Department is considering whether to allow Julian Assange to plead guilty to a reduced charge of mishandling classified information, according to people familiar with the matter, opening the possibility of a deal that would end a lengthy legal saga triggered by one of the biggest classified intelligence leaks in American history.”

A plea deal means the whole crisis for him and his family could finally come to an acceptable and peaceful end after all of these years. But Assange’s legal team has not given any level of confirmation to the WSJ reporting.

Source: ZeroHedge

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