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WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange can appeal extradition to US, UK court rules

LONDON, ENGLAND – MAY 19: Julian Assange gestures as he speaks to the media from the balcony of the Ecuadorian Embassy on May 19, 2017 in London, England. Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)

Jack Taylor | Getty Images News | Getty Images

LONDON — WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has the right to appeal his extradition to the United States, the High Court in London ruled on Monday.

Assange is wanted in the United States for espionage and faces up to 175 years in prison. The charges relate to WikiLeaks’ publication of hundreds of thousands of confidential military diplomatic files on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

In March, the Royal Courts of Justice in London said Assange would be allowed to proceed with an appeal hearing if the United States did not provide “satisfactory assurances” on several key factors.

These included that Assange would be able to rely on the First Amendment right to free speech in a trial and that, as an Australian, he would be afforded the same First Amendment protections as a US citizen . The British court also sought assurances that Assange would not face the death penalty.

Assange’s lawyer, Edward Fitzgerald, told the court on Monday that assurances given by the United States about Assange’s ability to exercise his First Amendment right were “manifestly insufficient”, Reuters reported .

The guarantee that Assange will not be sentenced to death was accepted by Fitzgerald, who said the United States had made an “unambiguous promise not to charge a capital crime.”

James Lewis, who represented the US authorities, said any assurances offered would not be binding on the courts, but that the courts would review and enforce this provision as much as possible.

Throughout Assange’s legal battle against extradition, which lasted more than a decade, the 52-year-old spent seven years in exile in the Ecuadorian embassy in the United Kingdom and nearly five years in a high security prison near London.

This is breaking news, please check back for updates.


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