U.K. High Court Upholds U.S. Appeal, Opening Door for Assange's Extradition
The High Court allowed two of the five grounds for appeal, once again giving the U.S. government the opportunity to extradite WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to face up to 175 years in prison.
On Friday morning, a British High Court ruled to allow two of the five grounds for the U.S. appeal of Judge Vanessa Baraitser’s January 2021 decision not to extradite Assange.
“The case must be remitted to Westminster Magistrates Court, for a District Judge to then send the case to the secretary of state to decide if Assange should be extradited,” the High Court stated.
The U.S. appeal, made in court in late October, rested on the following five grounds:
That Baraitser misapplied the 2003 Extradition Law, which finds extradition of someone with poor mental conditions oppressive.
That Baraitser should have notified the prosecution her intent to rule against extradition so that assurances could have been raised.
That psychiatrist Professor Michael Kopelman, whose testimony Baraitser relied on, should be given "no weight."
That Baraitser erred in her overall suicide risk assessment.
And to provide those assurances, which essentially go as follows: vowing no Special Administration Measures (SAMs), conditionally; the possibility a prisoner transfer assurance that claims Assange could serve time in his homeland of Australia; ensuring that Assange, if extradited, will receive proper clinical and psychiatric treatment; and, finally, vowing that Assange won't be held at ADX Florence "supermax" prison, on conditions.
Grounds 1, 3, and 4— all of which having to do with the concern over Assange’s suicide risk, including testimony from renowned psychiatrist Prof. Kopelman— were dismissed.
However, grounds 2 and 5 were the pair allowed by the court. Both of those had to do with U.S. assurances regarding Assange’s prison situation once extradited, namely regarding the use of Special Administrative Measures (SAMs), i.e. the application of stringent monitoring, restricted outside contact, and isolation for inmates.
The U.S. had argued, successfully, that they were not granted the sufficient opportunity to offer those assurances, which they feel would have altered the January ruling. In addition to that, the court was satisfied with the assurances; the two of most importance were conditional vows against both the use of SAMs and detention in a supermax prison.
In what his brother called a “punishment by process,” Julian Assange is being dragged along for his role in publishing a vast array of documents uncovering truths about our government and the people in power. For offering journalism that benefited the public knowledge, Assange is being persecuted.
And with that, the U.K. High Court has signaled acceptance of and satisfaction for these assurances even as they are wholly conditional, and thus arbitrary. In fact, they show how precarious Assange’s situation is, and just how aggressive the U.S. effort for extradition is.
James Lewis of the Crown Prosecution, who argued the U.S. appeal, previously said in court that in the interest of national security, the U.S. government should be able to impose SAMs whenever they deem it necessary. On the other side, the Assange defense’s Mark Summers cited a U.S. attorney's assertion that pre-trial SAMs for Assange are "possible," highlighting the devious nature of these assurances.
Similar can be said of the assurances regarding the ADX Florence supermax prison. Here’s this from our follow-up of the October appeal:
The defense's Mark Summers stated that these "assurances don't remove the risk of SAMs or ADX anyway," considering many of the conditions. Many of the assurances neglect to address the plain fact that whether there are SAMs or not, whether he is in ADX Florence or not, Assange will be at "risk of isolation, and therefore oppression."
Making the trustworthiness of the U.S. government even more shaky is the fact that it was just this past September that Yahoo! News published the bombshell piece detailing the CIA’s brutish plots to kidnap and even assasinate Assange when he was still at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.
The case is being sent to to Westminster Magistrates' Court where it will then be ordered to the U.K. Secretary of State for decision.
So back to the treacherous position of potentially being extradited for Assange as the U.S. continues its irresponsible and unwarranted hunt for him, threatening the ability for press institutions to publish revealing information about our government from whistleblowers and leaks without fear of unrelenting punishment— either by prosecution or process.
From the UN Special Rapporteur, who declared Assange’s conditions to be torturous:
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