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Justice: Decision expected on appeal in Assange case

Justice: Decision expected on appeal in Assange case

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has been fighting his extradition to the USA for years. The legal process in Great Britain could now have been exhausted.

In the legal tug-of-war over the extradition of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange demanded by the USA, a decision on his appeal is expected today. A hearing has been scheduled at the London High Court, which is expected to last two to three hours. Supporters of the 52-year-old Australian native have called for a rally in front of the courthouse in the center of the British capital.

The US government wants to put Assange on trial on espionage charges. According to his supporters, he faces up to 175 years in prison. Washington accuses him of having, together with whistleblower Chelsea Manning, stolen and published secret material from US military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, thereby endangering the lives of US informants. Assange’s supporters, on the other hand, see the prosecution as a retaliatory action by Washington because the publications uncovered alleged war crimes.

The final instance would be in Strasbourg

If the court grants the appeal, the years-long legal tug-of-war is likely to continue. If rejected, Assange faces imminent extradition. At least in Great Britain the legal process would then be exhausted. Assange’s team wants to appeal this case to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. But it is uncertain whether he would issue an interim injunction to stop the extradition and whether Great Britain would heed it.

The content on Monday is about whether Assange can invoke the right to freedom of expression in the USA as a foreign citizen and whether he faces the death penalty. The judges initially postponed the decision on the appeal at a two-day hearing at the end of March and requested assurances from the USA. Now the question is whether these assurances are sufficient or whether there will be an appeal hearing.

Assange’s wife Stella fears for his life if he is extradited because of the expected harsh prison conditions in the USA and her husband’s unstable psyche. The risk of suicide was also the reason why a judge initially rejected extradition. But the decision was later overturned. The British government agreed to his extradition. According to Stella Assange, it would be conceivable that the court would decide directly on the content of the appeal this Monday.

Is there perhaps a political solution?

In addition to a possible appeal process, Assange’s supporters are likely to pin their hopes primarily on a political solution. The Australian government is now campaigning for the release of its citizen. The Australian Parliament recently passed a resolution calling on the US and Britain to stop prosecuting Assange. Prime Minister Anthony Albanese emphasized that the matter had been dragging on for too long.

US President Joe Biden recently gave Assange supporters some hope. When asked whether Australia’s demand for an end to criminal prosecution would be examined, he said: “We are considering it.” Albanese called the statement “encouraging.”

Assange has been in London’s Belmarsh maximum security prison for almost five years. Before his arrest in April 2019, he had evaded law enforcement authorities for several years in the Ecuadorian embassy in London. They initially targeted him because of rape allegations in Sweden. However, these allegations were later dropped due to lack of evidence. He is now in prison without a conviction. Numerous human rights organizations, journalists’ associations, artists and politicians are calling for Assange’s immediate release.

Source: Stern

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