Thu. Jun 13th, 2024

‘A turning point’: Julian Assange supporters celebrate UK High Court ruling

Tyler Mitchell By Tyler Mitchell Jun7,2024
Key Points
  • Julian Assange has won the right to appeal his extradition to the United States.
  • This comes after two London High Court judges asked the US to provide assurances of Assange’s potential trial.
  • Following a five-year legal battle, Assange could have been swiftly extradited had the appeal been denied.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has won a bid to appeal against a UK court ruling that approved his extradition to the United States to face trial for breaking national security laws.
Two London High Court judges granted Assange permission to appeal, having previously asked Washington to provide “satisfactory assurances” about free speech protections at any US trial.

Those submissions were presented at a hearing on Monday, which the 52-year-old Australian did not attend.

Assange is wanted by Washington for publishing hundreds of thousands of secret US documents from 2010 as head of the whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks.
Several of these documents revealed alleged war crimes committed by US military personnel in Iraq.
Had he lost at Monday’s hearing, Assange — who has become a figurehead for free speech campaigners — could have been swiftly extradited after a five-year legal battle.

Instead, he will face another court battle in his long-running legal saga, after the UK government approved his extradition in June 2022.

Assange’s wife Stella said outside court that the ruling “marks a turning point” and that “we are relieved as a family that the court took the right decision”.
“Everyone can see what should be done here. Julian must be freed,” she added.
Human rights organisation Amnesty International called the ruling “a rare piece of positive news for Julian Assange and all defenders of press freedom”.

“The USA’s ongoing attempt to prosecute Assange puts media freedom at risk worldwide. It ridicules the USA’s obligations under international law, and their stated commitment to freedom of expression,” said Simon Crowther, legal adviser at Amnesty.

Julian Assange's wife Stella Assange stands outside the High Court in London.

Julian Assange’s wife Stella Assange has been his staunch advocate. Source: Getty / Leon Neal

In written submissions for the hearing, Edward Fitzgerald, representing Assange, accepted as “unambiguous” US government assurances that he would not face the death penalty.

But he queried whether his client could rely on the First Amendment of the US Constitution, which covers freedom of speech and freedom of the press, at trial.

James Lewis, representing the US government, told the court Assange’s conduct was “simply unprotected” by the First Amendment.

It does not apply to anyone “in relation to publication of illegally obtained national defence information giving the names of innocent sources to their grave and imminent risk of harm”, he submitted.

Dozens of Assange supporters gathered outside the Royal Courts of Justice in central London on Monday, many wearing T-shirts bearing Assange’s face, and cheered as news of the decision filtered through.
“He represents all other journalists, it’s a pressing humanitarian situation,” 83-year-old sculptor Jenny West told news agency Agence France-Presse.

Assange has been detained in the high-security Belmarsh prison in London since April 2019.

Tyler Mitchell

By Tyler Mitchell

Tyler is a renowned journalist with years of experience covering a wide range of topics including politics, entertainment, and technology. His insightful analysis and compelling storytelling have made him a trusted source for breaking news and expert commentary.

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One thought on “‘A turning point’: Julian Assange supporters celebrate UK High Court ruling”
  1. As a strong supporter of free speech, I believe Julian Assange’s fight against extradition is crucial in protecting journalistic freedoms. This ruling marks a significant victory and I hope justice prevails in his case.

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