WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange Can Be Extradited to the U.S., Rules British Court
The U.S. has indicted Assange on 18 charges, which carry a maximum sentence of 175 years in prison.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange can now be extradited to the United States, according to a British court ruling made on Friday. The High Court ruling overturns the January judgment that Assange's extradition would be too "oppressive" considering his mental health, as US assurances gave the court confidence that Assange would be treated humanely.
"There is no reason why this court should not accept the assurances as meaning what they say,″ the Friday ruling stated. "There is no basis for assuming that the USA has not given the assurances in good faith."
The U.S. has charged the 50-year-old Australian with 17 espionage charges and one charge of computer misuse. Assange's charges could total up to 175 years in prison, though U.S. government lawyer James Lewis says "the longest sentence ever imposed for this offense is 63 months." According to U.S. authorities, if Assange is extradited for prosecution, he could serve any U.S. prison sentence he receives in his native Australia.
Assange's fiancée Stella Moris spoke out against the extradition ruling, saying the decision was "dangerous and misguided."
"This goes to the fundamentals of press freedom and democracy. We will fight," she said in a speech. "Every generation has an epic fight to fight and this is ours, because Julian represents the fundamentals of what it means to live in a free society."
Assange is currently in London's Belmarsh Prison after a 2019 arrest for skipping bail. For seven years prior, he was hiding inside Ecuador's embassy in London.
Assange came to notoriety in 2010, when his platform WikiLeaks published leaked videos and documents of U.S. military abuses. U.S. prosecutors say leaking the classified material endangered lives.
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