Wikileaks Founder Nearing Extradition To United States

A British High Court last week heard arguments in WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s last legal attempt to block his extradition to the United States to face charges of espionage, the Associated Press reported.

Following a two-day hearing, High Court judges Victoria Sharp and Jeremy Johnson said they would take some time to consider the arguments before rendering their verdict, with their decision not expected until sometime in March at the earliest.

The UK government ordered Assange’s extradition to the United States in June 2022 to face trial.

Assange’s lawyers had requested that the High Court grant their client a new appeal to prevent the UK from extraditing Assange to the US.

Assange was indicted by the Justice Department in 2019. He faces 17 espionage charges and a charge of computer misuse in connection to Wikileaks’ publication of classified US documents nearly 15 years ago.

The Justice Department alleges that Assange convinced former Army intelligence officer Bradley Manning to steal military files and diplomatic cables that were later published by Wikileaks. These documents included the names of confidential human resources working with the US military in Afghanistan and Iraq.

During last week’s hearing, Clair Dobbin, the attorney representing the US, said the leaks “created a grave and imminent risk” that could lead to the detention of innocent civilians living in war zones or under repressive governments.

Assange’s lawyers told the High Court that if convicted in the US, he could face a sentence of up to 175 years.

If the High Court rules against Assange, he could appeal to the European Court of Human Rights to block the extradition. However, supporters fear that the US could already have Assange in custody before such an appeal could happen since the UK government has already approved the extradition order.

His wife Stella Assange told reporters last week that her husband had wanted to attend last week’s hearing but was unable to do so due to his poor health.