Court denies WikiLeaks co-founder’s petition to appeal extradition to the US, case turned over to Home Office.
The UK Supreme Court on Monday rejected Julian Assange’s appeal of the decision to extradite him to the US, where the WikiLeaks co-founder faces espionage charges. It is now up to Home Secretary Priti Patel to authorize the extradition.
The Supreme Court has not yet officially released its reasoning in the matter. The decision was announced by WikiLeaks and Assange’s partner Stella Moris on social media.
Assange filed a petition to appeal in December, arguing that US assurances not to hold him in solitary or subject him to psychological torture were unreliable – and citing Amnesty International to that effect. The British High Court granted his petition in January.
On Saturday, Moris tweeted that Belmarsh prison – where Assange has been held since his arrest in April 2019 – had finally granted permission for their wedding, which was scheduled for March 23. It is now unclear whether that will be allowed to happen.
The Australian-born journalist spent seven years living inside Ecuador’s embassy in London, with the UK authorities denying him permission to leave citing a Swedish investigation into alleged sexual misconduct – which ended up being dropped. The WikiLeaks publisher sought asylum suspecting the Swedish case was a pretext to get him extradited to the US, which Washington confirmed by unsealing an indictment related to his 2010 publication of classified US documents following his 2019 arrest.
For the publication of State Department cables and Pentagon documents pertaining to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the US has charged Assange under the Espionage Act, and seeks to imprison him for up to 175 years. The US request for extradition was approved in December 2021, and is based on guarantees he would not be mistreated that the US government has explicitly reserved the right to revoke at any time.
Assange has denied all accusations, with his defenders and supporters pointing out he was not under US jurisdiction, had engaged in journalism that is legal in the US, and that accusations of him conspiring to hack the Pentagon’s computer systems were based on discredited testimony of a convicted Icelandic criminal.
WikiLeaks’ official position on the charges is that they are politically motivated and “represent an unprecedented attack on press freedom and the public’s right to know – seeking to criminalize basic journalistic activity.”