By Charlie Kimber
Downloading PDF. Please wait... Issue 2906

Julian Assange can appeal extradition to US, court rules

Julian Assange’s ‘crime’ was exposing atrocities committed by the US in the Afghan and Iraq wars
Issue 2906
Protests for Julian Assange took place outside the High Court, London, today.

Protests for Julian Assange took place outside the High Court, London, on Monday (Photo: Guy Smallman)

The High Court in London court ruled on Monday that Julian Assange, the Wikileaks founder, could appeal against his extradition to the United States.

It was a blow against the United States government’s attempt to punish Assange for exposing imperialist crimes. It ought now to see all the charges dropped.

“As the case goes along, it becomes clearer and clearer to everyone that Julian is in prison for doing good journalism. For exposing corruption. For exposing the violations on innocent people,” said Stella Assange, Julian’s wife, after the decision was announced.

She added, “We spent a long time hearing the United States putting lipstick on a pig but the judges did not buy it.”

In March, the judges said that the court would grant a request to appeal unless the American government gave “a satisfactory assurance” over a series of issues. These included that Assange would be afforded protections under the US Constitution, would not be “prejudiced by reason of his nationality,” and that “the death penalty is not imposed”.

The US embassy in Britain gave vague replies on these questions in April. But Assange’s legal team had argued in court that they did not go far enough to meet the court’s request.

The British state has held Assange in appalling and life-threatening conditions in Belmarsh, one of Britain’s highest-security prisons, in south London since 2019.

Assange’s “crime” was exposing atrocities committed by the US in the Afghan and Iraq wars. Information provided by US Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to WikiLeaks from 2010 and 2011 included around 750,000 documents.

They revealed how the US military killed hundreds of civilians in unreported incidents during the war in Afghanistan. And leaked Iraq war files showed 66,000 civilians had been killed.

One video from 2007 showed a helicopter gunman attacking unarmed Iraqi civilians, killing Reuters journalists Namir Noor-Eldeen, Saeed Chmagh and nine other men. Two children were seriously wounded.

Assange faces 175 years in prison if he is extradited. Monday’s decision is a victory and would not have happened without campaigning. But the war is not yet won.

A decision to extradite Assange would set a dangerous precedent of criminalising those who speak out against the brutal crimes of imperialism. It will further intimidate those who could reveal, for example, British and US collaboration with genocide in Gaza.

Rishi Sunak, Joe Biden and their allies are determined to lock up Chelsea Manning and Assange for revealing their military’s murderous deeds. He should be freed now.

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