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News > United Kingdom

London Court to Resume Assange Extradition Trial in May

  • A Free Assange poster, 2024.

    A Free Assange poster, 2024. | Photo: X/ @SomersetBean

Published 17 April 2024
Opinion

Stella Assange denounced that the U.S. assurance regarding the First Amendment is not really an assurance.

On Wednesday, the High Court of London confirmed that the extradition process of Julian Assange will continue on May 20th.

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Assange Faces Further Wait for Appeal Against Extradition to US

On that day, lawyers will be able to review the assurances that the United States presented on Tuesday regarding the treatment that the Australian journalist would receive in that country, as reported by judges Victoria Sharp and Adam Johnson.

If, after hearing the arguments from both sides, the court accepts those assurances, Assange could be extradited to the U.S., which is charging him with 18 counts of espionage and computer intrusion due to the revelations from his WikiLeaks platform.

However, if the court rejects them, the 52-year-old Australian could appeal his extradition in another legal process, which the British government already approved in 2022.

Until April 16, the U.S. government had to provide satisfactory assurances in three aspects. Firstly, Washington must confirm that Assange will be able to invoke the First Amendment, which protects freedom of expression.

British magistrates also requested that the U.S. confirm that Assange will not be disadvantaged in a potential trial because of his nationality and that he will not face the death penalty, which is prohibited in the United Kingdom.

In the communication sent to the High Court of London, the United States assures that Assange will not be disadvantaged by reason of his nationality in relation to the defense he chooses to present at trial or with respect to the sentence.

"Specifically, he will be able to raise and seek refuge during the trial (including any sentencing hearing) in the rights and protections offered by the First Amendment," it says, although it clarifies that the decision on whether this applies to him "is exclusively up to the U.S. courts."

The U.S. government also maintains that "the death penalty will not be sought or imposed," as the Australian journalist is not charged with any offense punishable by the maximum penalty.

On Tuesday, however, Stella Assange, the wife of Julian, explained that the supposed assurance regarding the First Amendment is not really an assurance.

She lamented that Washington did not explicitly withdraw the U.S. Attorney's previous assertion that Assange cannot invoke the First Amendment because he is not American.

"Instead, the U.S. has limited itself to blatant weasel words claiming that Julian can ‘seek to raise’ the First Amendment if extradited," Stella said.

"The diplomatic note does nothing to relieve our family’s extreme distress about his future – his grim expectation of spending the rest of his life in isolation in a U.S. prison for publishing award-winning journalism," she added.

Stella reiterated her request to President Joe Biden to drop the charges against her husband, as the Barack Obama Administration did. In 2019, however, Donald Trump resumed legal persecution against the Australian journalist.

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