About

Julian Assange wins right to appeal

Share
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has won the right to appeal against being extradited to the U.S. on spying charges in London's High Court.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has won the right to appeal against being extradited to the U.S. on spying charges in London's High Court.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has won the right to appeal against being extradited to the U.S. on spying charges in London’s High Court.

The Australian is accused of publishing classified U.S. military documents.

The court delayed a decision in March, when U.S. authorities were ordered to guarantee Assange wouldn’t face the death penalty if he’s tried in a U.S. court.

This week, it ruled that there was insufficient evidence to block an appeal. Assange will now have a chance to argue his case against extradition to the U.S., where he could face a 175 year prison sentence.

Julian Assange

Julian Assange was born in Queensland in 1971. He worked as a computer programmer before setting up the website ‘WikiLeaks’ in 2006.

WikiLeaks was designed to share censored materials involving “war, spying and corruption” with the public. It claims to have published more than 10 million documents.

It was launched during the U.S.-led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan following the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

WikiLeaks

In 2010, WikiLeaks posted thousands of classified documents relating to the U.S.’ wars in the Middle East.

The leaks included claims U.S. armed forces were responsible for an estimated 15,000 unreported civilian deaths. The documents also revealed secret diplomatic dealings between the U.S. Government and foreign leaders.

Former U.S. Army intelligence officer Chelsea Manning was found responsible for handing the information to WikiLeaks. Manning served jail time over her role in these leaks.

UK arrest

In 2012, Ecuador’s embassy in the UK provided Assange with political asylum (protection) which meant he couldn’t be extradited to the U.S. if spying charges were brought against him.

While he was living in the Ecuadorian embassy, the U.S. started forming a legal case against Assange, alleging his actions threatened its national security.

Ecuador’s embassy removed Assange’s protection in April 2019. London police arrested Assange as soon as he stepped out of the embassy. He’s been detained in a UK high-security prison ever since.

Extradition

Since it announced charges against Assange, the U.S. has requested UK authorities facilitate his extradition — meaning he would be forcibly deported from the UK to the U.S. to face trial.

Assange could face a maximum sentence of 175 years in prison if a U.S. court finds him guilty of all 18 charges.

In 2021, a UK court rejected the U.S. extradition request. The judge argued sending Assange to the U.S. would pose a significant mental health risk. However, the UK Government reversed the court’s decision in 2022. Assange appealed this ruling.

This year, Assange’s lawyers launched what was widely considered a final chance to appeal his extradition to the U.S.

They have argued that the WikiLeaks founder would not receive a fair trial in the U.S. because he is not an American citizen.

In March, the Court delayed its decision and asked the U.S. to provide “satisfactory assurances” Assange would face a fair trial and that, if found guilty, he would not be sentenced to death.

Assange wins right to appeal

On Monday, the High Court ruled it was not satisfied that American authorities could guarantee Assange’s safety or right to a fair trial, granting him a chance to appeal extradition.

It acknowledged Assange may not be able to rely on a freedom of speech defence (a U.S. Constitution-protected right) in an American court, because of his nationality.

It means Assange’s appeal will now be heard in a full hearing in the UK High Court. In the meantime, he will remain in the high-security UK prison where he has been since 2019.

Reaction

Supporters gathered outside the court, chanting: “Free Julian Assange.”

His wife, Stella Assange, described the ruling as “the right decision”.

Speaking outside court, she said: “As a family, we are relieved, but how long can this go on? The U.S. should read the situation and drop this case now.“

Become smarter in three minutes

Get the daily email that makes reading the news actually enjoyable. Stay informed, for free.

Be the smart friend in your group chat

Join thousands of young Aussies and get our 5 min daily newsletter on what matters in your world.

It’s easy. It’s trustworthy. It’s free.