Select Page

Julian Assange’s application for leave to appeal his extradition to the United States was heard over two days in court five at London’s Royal Courts of Justice, last week. If it fails he could find himself on a flight to the US unless the European Court of Human Rights intervenes. Ill health prevented him from appearing, even by video link. How serious is his condition is unknown, although he recently broke a rib during a coughing fit.

Assange, an Australian citizen, is fighting extradition under the UK–US 2003 extradition treaty which was implemented under the UK Extradition Act 2003. It came into force in April 2007 following its ratification by the US Senate in 2006. He faces 17 changes under the Espionage Act, and one of computer hacking. If convicted, he could be sentenced to 175 years in prison. Mark Summers, KC, a member of Assange’s legal team said that the event of his extradition there was no guarantee the US would not subject Assange to the death penalty.

It was four years ago that the WikiLeaks founder’s extradition hearing started and he has been held in Belmarsh high security prison in south east London for the past five years .

The closing statement on Assange’s behalf from Mark Summer KC provided a robust restatement of the concerns the case raised. Assange had revealed “state crimes”; the US is planning “state retribution” and finally this: “You can’t ignore what we all now know that (Trump) was plotting to kill (Mr Assange). This application is being treated as though it was issued in good faith while all the while the US was plotting to kill him.”

At the end of the two day hearing, Judges Victor Johnson and Dame Victoria Sharp indicated that their decision will be at least a couple of weeks.  In the meantime, a sick Julian Assange remains in jail, perhaps hearten by the news that days before the hearing Australia’s Labor Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese had voted in favour of a successful motion in parliament’s lower house calling for the return of WikiLeaks’ founder and Australian citizen Julian Assange to Australia. It is hoped that this will send a powerful political signal to the UK and U.S. governments.

Photo: Free Julian Assange Campaign