Julian Assange Wins Right to Appeal Extradition in UK Supreme Court

Wikileaks co-founder, Julian Assange, will be able to take his case to the UK Supreme Court. This after a US legal win.

The day journalism went to trial is continuing. Assange, of course, helped to expose unprecedented amounts of American corruption. Whether it was the international influence to push American laws on other countries via the diplomatic cables or even potential war crimes through the war diaries (i.e. collateral murder). What’s more is that Wikileaks also exposed multiple international trade agreements that were being negotiated with multinational corporations and governments behind closed doors. The US, for their part, couldn’t let any of this stand and has been pushing for a reprisal ever since.

In 2019, Assange was dragged non-violently out of an Ecuadorian embassy after the US managed to win a regime change and a deal with the country of Ecuador. At the time, the US was utilizing a, at best, highly questionable accusation of sexual assault – a case where one of the accusers ended up recanting. Supporters, of course, knew better and knew that the US has been trying to get their hands on the journalist for years.

Western media, of course, had an axe to grind with Assange. While they have long considered themselves the stalwart defender of democracy and holds government accountable, Wikileaks effectively embarrassed them by doing more in just a few years than what the media combined failed to do for decades. In response, some of them happily shed their cover of balance to favour the US government. Many of them have been actively demonizing Assange ever since – at one point, imitating satire along the way.

Also in 2019, the US managed to get their first taste of revenge when a UK court sentenced Assange to 50 weeks in prison for the comparatively trivial crime of skipping bail. Assange’s lawyers, of course, pointed out that this sentence exceeded the legal limit of what could have been handed down and that murderers get less than that for a similar misdemeanour. The United Nations also called the prison sentence disproportionate.

After that, the US cast aside the flimsy Swedish case and began the long process of extraditing Assange. It was at that point that the time for pretending was over and, as a result, the Swedish sexual assault accusations had long exceeded it’s time as being a useful cover. In the process, it proved Assange’s supporters correct that the charges were little more than a thin cover for what the US had been wanting all along.

Shortly after, the US did what many considered unthinkable – laid 17 charges of espionage for the crimes of journalism. Civil rights advocates and organizations were shocked that the US would go this far in their quest for political revenge. The EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) concluded that this case had officially gone far beyond just a simple case against Assange and Wikileaks and grew to a case against journalism itself. In doing so, the US broke an unwritten oath to never use espionage charges against journalists who were simply holding government to account. Reporters Without Borders, for their part, demanded the release of Assange as well.

Things started looking grim for Assange. As the trial got under way for his extradition, civil rights organizations like Amnesty International were barred from the proceedings. This helped to further erode confidence that Assange would get a fair trial. The EFF blasted the trial process as selective prosecution.

Hope seemed to be fading for the whole process. In 2021, though, hope started to get renewed when the judge ultimately blocked Assange’s extradition to the US. It wasn’t for the reasons supporters of journalism, civil rights, and Assange were hoping for, though. Rather than challenging the fact that the charges were politically motivated and potentially an abuse of power, it was, instead, about the quality of the American penal system. The fear is that, once Assange was in US custody, he would take his own life. The judge wasn’t convinced that the prison system would be adequate in preventing Assange from taking his own life.

It was, at that point, that the Biden Administration took office. Some were hoping that newly elected president, Joe Biden, would see reason and drop the case. So, in response, 22 human rights organizations called on Biden to drop the case against Assange. Biden, for his part, rejected those calls for human rights and appealed the decision. Of course, the world of civil rights did not back down and renewed their call for human rights in this case.

By the end of last year, the Biden Administration won their extradition case on appeal. In response, Assange’s lawyers appealed the case. The amount of road left in the legal process is running shorter and shorter, but the lawyers were doing their job in trying to fend off extradition by exhausting all options.

Now, we are learning that the case cleared one legal hurdle by giving Assange permission to appeal the case to the UK Supreme court. From Al Jazeera:

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange can take his legal fight against extradition to the United States to Britain’s Supreme Court, the United Kingdom’s High Court has ruled.

While the court in London gave Assange permission to appeal, the Supreme Court must agree to accept the case before it can move forward.

The decision is the latest step in Assange’s long battle to avoid trial on a series of charges related to WikiLeaks’s publication of classified documents more than a decade ago.

US authorities want Australian-born Assange, 50, currently in jail in London as he awaits a ruling on his extradition, to face trial on 18 counts relating to WikiLeaks’s release of vast troves of confidential US military records and diplomatic cables which they said had put lives in danger.

“Make no mistake, we won today in court,” said Assange’s partner, Stella Moris, with whom he had two children while in the Ecuadorian embassy. “Our fight goes on, and we will fight this until Julian is free.”

So, it appears that the UK Supreme Court has to still agree to hear the case. Still, a legal victory is a legal victory and the fight is one step closer to being able to carry on. As of now, the next crucial step will be decided by the UK Supreme Court. As a result, we now await their decision to see where things go to next.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Facebook.

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