On Friday 26 August, lawyers for WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange filed an appeal before the High Court of Justice Administrative Court in London (a specialist court within the Queen’s Bench Division of the High Court of Justice) against the US government and Priti Patel, the UK Home Secretary, who approved his expulsion in June 2022 to the United States to face 18 charges, 17 based on the US Espionage Act 1917. In the “perfected grounds of appeal” his lawyers argue he is “being prosecuted and punished for his political opinions”.
Other grounds of appeal concerning the United States Government include the following points:
- Julian Assange is being prosecuted and punished for his political opinions (s.81(a) of the Extradition Act);
- Julian Assange is being prosecuted for protected speech Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which provides the right to Freedom of Expression and Information.
- The request itself violates the US-UK Extradition Treaty and International law because it is for political offences;
- The US Government has misrepresented the core facts of the case to the British courts; and
- The extradition request and its surrounding circumstances constitute an abuse of process.
Julian’s wife said the prosecution was unlawful. “Overwhelming evidence has emerged proving that the US prosecution against my husband is a criminal abuse,” Stella Assange said on Twitter the following day.
“The high court judges will now decide whether Julian is given the opportunity to put the case against the US before open court, and in full, at the appeal.”
The grounds of appeal concerning the Home Secretary include arguments that Priti Patel erred in her decision to approve the extradition order on grounds of specialty and because the request itself violates Article 4 of the US-UK Extradition Treaty. This article stipulates that extradition will not be granted where “the competent authority of the Requested State determines that the request was politically motivated”.
The appeal comes as the Michelle Bachelet, the head of The UN human rights commission met with Assange’s lawyers and Stella Assange at the Palais Wilson Geneva on Saturday 27 August
At the meeting, the High Commissioner was informed about the human rights violations against Julian Assange, the risk to his life if he is extradited to the United States, and the implications for freedom of the press and the right of citizens to the truth.
The meeting lasted just over an hour. Mr. Assange’s lawyers, Baltasar Garzón and Aitor Martínez, explained Mr. Assange’s current situation relating to the United Kingdom’s extradition proceedings. The High Commissioner was informed of the two pending appeals before the High Court. The first, against the decision of the Home Office to agree to hand over Julian Assange to the United States; and the second, the cross appeal brought by the WikiLeaks founder against the arguments that district judge Vanessa Baraitser rejected in the lower court’s ruling.
Stella Assange focused on the frail state of Mr. Assange’s health. She mentioned various medical reports that confirmed the risk of Mr Assange dying in prison including that extradition could drive him to take his own life, a risk corroborated by specialists’ reports before the British courts.
In addition, she highlighted the fact that the Special Rapporteur against Torture, Nils Melzer, visited her husband in Belmarsh prison, in south east London with and two medical experts, Professor Duarte Nuno Vieira from Portugal and Dr. Pau Perez-Sales from Spain who conducted a medical assessment of Assange.in May 2019. Nils Melzer concluded that Julian Assange was being subjected to physiological torture https://www.ohchr.org/en/press-releases/2019/05/un-expert-says-collective-persecution-julian-assange-must-end-now?LangID=E&NewsID=24665.
Regarding his medical situation, she recalled that her husband recently suffered a transient ischemic attack (TIA), and expressed a profound and serious concern for his life.
A full report of the visit may be found at: https://assangedefense.org/press-release/the-un-high-commissioner-for-human-rights-michelle-bachelet-met-with-assanges-wife/?link_id=0&can_id=95d9455d6ba3702294b07541c9351441&source=email-assange-defense-recap-un-meeting-appeal-filed-and-more&email_referrer=email_1647115&email_subject=assange-defense-recap-un-meeting-appeal-filed-and-more
Meanwhile while the High Court considers the legal representations, the WikiLeaks founder remains in Belmarsh prison, where he has been in detention since April 2019 and press freedom and our right to know remains on trial.