Julian Assange: WikiLeaks founder can be extradited from UK to US - High Court rules

Julian Assange is wanted in the US over an alleged conspiracy to obtain and disclose national defence information

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange can be extradited from the UK to the US, the High Court has ruled.

Assange, 50, is wanted in America over an alleged conspiracy to obtain and disclose national defence information following WikiLeaks’s publication of hundreds of thousands of leaked documents relating to the Afghanistan and Iraq wars.

At a glance: 5 key points

  • The ruling today (10 December) comes after US authorities brought a High Court challenge against a decision in January that Assange should not be sent to the US.
  • After a two-day hearing in October, the Lord Chief Justice Lord Burnett, sitting with Lord Justice Holroyde, ruled in favour of the US on Friday.
  • They found that the judge who made the ruling in January based her decision on the risk of Assange being held in highly restrictive prison conditions if extradited.
  • However, the US authorities later gave assurances that Assange would not face those strictest measures either pre-trial or post-conviction unless he committed an act in the future that required them.
  • The judges ordered that the case must return to Westminster Magistrates’ Court for a district judge to formally send it to Home Secretary Priti Patel.

What’s been said

On the risk of Assange being sent to a highly restrictive US prison, Lord Burnett said: “That risk is in our judgment excluded by the assurances which are offered.

“It follows that we are satisfied that, if the assurances had been before the judge, she would have answered the relevant question differently.”

He added: “That conclusion is sufficient to determine this appeal in the USA’s favour.”

Assange’s fiancee Stella Moris called the ruling “dangerous and misguided” and said they intended to appeal.

During October’s hearing, James Lewis QC, for the US, said that the “binding” diplomatic assurances made were a “solemn matter” and “are not dished out like smarties”.

Background

Assange has been held in Belmarsh Prison since 2019 after he was carried out of the Ecuadorian embassy by police before being arrested for breaching his bail conditions.

He had entered the building in 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden to face sex offence allegations, which he has always denied and were eventually dropped.

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