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Wednesday May 29, 2024

Assange extradition moves closer as US provides UK court with assurances

There will now be a further court hearing in London on May 20

By Reuters
April 17, 2024
Supporters of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange hold a banner and placards outside The Royal Courts of Justice, Britain’s High Court, in central London, UK on March 26, 2024 — AFP
Supporters of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange hold a banner and placards outside The Royal Courts of Justice, Britain’s High Court, in central London, UK on March 26, 2024 — AFP

LONDON: The United States has provided assurances requested by the High Court in London which could finally pave the way for WikiLeaks’ founder Julian Assange to be extradited from Britain.

Last month, the High Court ruled that, without certain US guarantees, Assange, 52, would be allowed to launch a new appeal against being extradited to face 18 charges, all bar one under the Espionage Act, over WikiLeaks’ release of confidential US military records and diplomatic cables. Those assurances - that in a US trial he could rely on the First Amendment right to free speech and that there was no prospect of new charges which could see the death penalty being imposed - have now been submitted by a deadline which fell on Tuesday. The document, seen by Reuters, stated that Assange would be able to rely on First Amendment protections and says “a sentence of death will neither be sought nor imposed”. “These assurances are binding on any and all present or subsequent individuals to whom authority has been delegated to decide the matters,” it said.

There will now be a further court hearing in London on May 20, buthis lawyers have previously described US assurances given in other cases as not “worth the paper they’re written on”, echoing similar criticism from human rights group Amnesty International.