LONDON | British justice on Monday authorized the founder of WikiLeaks Julian Assange to ask the Supreme Court to be able to challenge a decision authorizing his extradition to the United States, which wants to try him for a massive leak of documents.
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The High Court judges made clear in their ruling that it was ultimately up to the Supreme Court, the UK’s highest court, whether or not to allow the 50-year-old Australian’s appeal.
In December, the High Court overturned on appeal the decision of a judge who refused at first instance to extradite Julian Assange to the United States where he is being prosecuted for the dissemination, from 2010, of more than 700,000 documents classified on US military and diplomatic activities, particularly in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Prosecuted in particular for espionage, he risks up to 175 years in prison in a case which, according to his supporters, constitutes a serious attack on the freedom of the press.
“I have no words to say how relieved I am,” reacted Sue Barnett, 61, questioned by AFP among the dozens of people who gathered outside the High Court on Monday to support Julian Assange. . In her hands, she held a sign asking for her release “now”.
British justice initially ruled in his favor a year ago, when Judge Vanessa Baraitser opposed the surrender to US authorities of Julian Assange, citing the risk of suicide.
But Washington scored a major victory in December, when the High Court overturned that decision, finding the United States had provided assurances that addressed the judge’s concerns.
The Australian’s lawyers then filed an appeal with the Supreme Court.
Held in a high security prison near London for two and a half years, Julian Assange was arrested by British police in April 2019 after spending seven years in the Ecuadorian embassy in the United Kingdom where he had taken refuge. while he was out on bail.
He then feared extradition to the United States, or Sweden where he was the subject of rape proceedings since abandoned.
During the appeal hearing about his extradition at the end of October, the United States had sought to reassure on the treatment which would be reserved for the founder of WikiLeaks.
Washington has said he will not be incarcerated in the high-security ADX prison in Florence, Colorado, nicknamed the “Rocky Alcatraz” – where he is being held in solitary confinement. Qaeda – and that it would receive the necessary clinical and psychological care. The Americans had also raised the possibility that he could apply to serve his sentence in Australia.
These guarantees had convinced the British judges, but not Julian Assange’s fiancée, Stella Morris, with whom he had two children when he was recluse in the Ecuadorian embassy. Ms Morris fears for his health if he is extradited to a country which she says ‘conspired to kill Julian because of what he published’.
The Australian received the support of around forty French deputies from all sides who pleaded for him to be able to benefit from political asylum in France.