High Court grants Julian Assange reprieve in appeal

Julian Assange has received a temporary respite in his legal battle against extradition to the US to face charges of spying and hacking. The High Court in London has called upon Washington to provide assurances regarding Assange’s future treatment. In a ruling issued on Tuesday, the court granted the US a three-week window to furnish undertakings. These assurances include ensuring that Assange receives fair treatment equivalent to that of a US citizen during trial, is spared from the death penalty, and can avail First Amendment free-speech protections. This ruling grants Assange the opportunity to make further representations on these critical issues, effectively delaying his extradition for at least two months.

The next hearing is scheduled for May 20, during which a final decision on Assange’s ability to appeal will be rendered. Should the US fail to provide the requested assurances, the court will allow him a full appeal. A press summary of the judgment issued by the court affirmed, “The court has found that Mr. Assange has an arguable case on [three] grounds. Unless the government of the United States of America and the secretary of state provide satisfactory assurances in respect of those grounds, the court will grant leave to appeal.”

Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, gained global attention for publishing secret military logs and diplomatic cables, shedding light on US activities in Iraq and Afghanistan. His supporters portray him as a political prisoner and journalist, emphasizing the case’s significance in safeguarding press freedoms. Conversely, US authorities depict him as a threat to national security, accusing him of compromising the safety of individuals and violating the 1917 Espionage Act.

Currently held at Belmarsh prison in south-east London, Assange’s legal team argues that his extradition would result in a “flagrant denial of justice.” Despite claims that he could face up to 175 years in a US prison, US authorities dismiss these assertions as exaggerated. Should his final appeal fail, Assange may seek recourse from the European Court of Human Rights to halt his extradition.