Assange Extradition Order Sent to Priti Patel

A London court on Wednesday sent an order to extradite Julian Assange to the U.K. home secretary, who has four weeks to decide. But Assange still has legal options.

Westminster Magistrates Court. (GrimsbyT/Wikimedia Commons)

By Joe Lauria
Special to Consortium News

An order to extradite WikiLeaks‘ publisher Julian Assange was sent to British Home Secretary Priti Patel on Wednesday morning by Westminster Magistrate’s Court.

The order came after the U.K. Supreme Court last month declined to hear Assange’s appeal of a High Court decision to allow the extradition to the United States to proceed.  

Patel now has four weeks to decide whether to send Assange to the U.S. to face espionage and computer intrusion charges for publishing prima facie evidence of U.S. war crimes that could land him behind bars for up to 175 years — an effective life sentence.

Assange’s legal team can appeal to Patel during the next four weeks. After her decision is made Assange can then make a renewed appeal to the High Court if she opts to send him to the U.S.

Mark Summers QC, one of Assange’s lawyers, told Westminster Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday, that while he was not permitted by rule to present “fresh evidence” at the present hearing, Assange’s legal team would make submissions to Patel on “fresh developments” in Assange’s case.

Without elaborating, Summers said Patel would be sent “serious submissions on U.S. sentencing practices.” (Consortium News monitored the court hearing via a remote video link.)

Among the new developments since the High Court hearing in October is a deterioration in Assange’s health after he suffered a mini stroke on the first day of that hearing. 

Assange initially won his extradition case in the magistrate’s court in January 2021 based on the high likelihood that his mental health would lead to his suicide in harsh prison conditions in the United States.

After the case was lost, the U.S. made diplomatic “assurances” to Britain that it would not put Assange in so-called Special Administrative Measures (SAMS), the most severe condition of isolation in the U.S. prison system. The U.S. also promised that Assange would be given adequate physical and mental health care.

The U.S. then appealed. Based on those assurances alone, the High Court on Dec. 10, 2021 overturned the lower court’s decision to block extradition. But that decision was made after Assange had suffered a stroke during the first day of the two-day High Court hearing. The stroke was not made public until the day after the ruling. 

That markedly changed the conditions upon which the decision was reached as one of the High Court judges made the distinction during the hearing that Assange was suffering only from a mental and not physical disability. The crucial question remains: when did the High Court learn about the stroke? 

If Patel decides to extradite and if Assange decides to appeal again to the High Court, his lawyers could also challenge parts of the lower court’s ruling on issues of press freedom and the political nature of the U.S. charges, which are not allowed in the U.S.-U.K. extradition treaty.

Assange appeared in court Wednesday on a video screen from a room at Belmarsh maximum security prison where has been held since his arrest in April 2019 from the Ecuador embassy, where he had had political asylum for seven years.

Dressed in a gray suit and tie, Assange appeared more confident in his movements and lucid in his thoughts than in previous court appearances, as he clearly stated his name and date of birth.  Assange was married this month to his partner Stella Assange in a ceremony held inside Belmarsh, where he was ordered to remain for at least the next four weeks.

Stella Assange spoke outside the courthouse after the hearing:

Joe Lauria is editor-in-chief of Consortium News and a former U.N. correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe, and numerous other newspapers, including The Montreal Gazette and The Star of Johannesburg. He was an investigative reporter for the Sunday Times of London, a financial reporter for Bloomberg News and began his professional work as a 19-year old stringer for The New York Times.  He can be reached at joelauria@consortiumnews.com and followed on Twitter @unjoe  

10 comments for “Assange Extradition Order Sent to Priti Patel

  1. Carl Zaisser
    April 21, 2022 at 11:23

    Meanwhile, de facto war criminal Tony Blair’s been knighted by the queen of England, and Boris Johnson had his ass saved from losing his job due to his ‘partygate’ antics with his oh so clever warmongering campaign against Russia. And that very sad personality and de facto war criminal George Bush has been rehabilitated as some kind of painter and a ‘friend’ of the Obamas. Lyrics in Don McClean’s song “Vincent” says it all about Julian’s prospects now in this world: “I could have told you, Vincent/This world was never meant/For one as beautiful as you.”

  2. Jesika
    April 21, 2022 at 09:34

    This is truly terrifying for Julian Assange, and the world ought to be terrified because there is no justice in the US. England has acted dishonorably ever since Julian was delivered to their horrible grips. I pray for Julian Assange, and I hope that at least US people will get out and support him once he is delivered to the American den of thieves and liars.

  3. John R
    April 20, 2022 at 18:58

    Is anyone surprised by this development? It was a long time coming and his captors hoped he’d be dead by now. Still barely alive, Julian will be sent to the US where TPTB will finish him off. Hilary Clinton must be so pleased (recall she called for his assignation).

    Is it any wonder that I rarely if ever hear his name mentioned in the MSM? What does that say about us?

    “Is Journalism a crime?” It is when the journalist exposes the dark side of Empire. Anyone else out there care to challenge the monsters?

  4. Tristan John Stewart Patterson
    April 20, 2022 at 18:12

    What’s the latest news on the case of the “not” US diplomat who killed the young man on his bicycle? Any justice there?

  5. April 20, 2022 at 14:16

    I am sorry to say the authorities know that if Assange gets to the US the case will most likely get thrown out

    The only way Assange will leave Belmarsh is feet first like Epstein

    • Consortiumnews.com
      April 21, 2022 at 01:59

      There seems very little chance of the case being thrown out in the US at this stage. As Nils Melzer said, Assange has no chance of a fair trial in the US.

  6. pedro
    April 20, 2022 at 14:04

    The British lion submits to a nuclear armed homicidal madhouse.

  7. Kurt
    April 20, 2022 at 12:34

    I think Stella Assange is a brave and strong woman, but her pleading to the war criminal and American lap dog Boris Johnson is meaningless. Every avenue thus far has been exhausted and every new one will be as well because justice for all is a danger to those who want it for the few.
    The only way the extradition and release of Julian will be stopped, is not through the pleading of individuals, the Amnesty groups, or his lawyers, but through the rising up of the global working class to overthrow the capitalist system that cannot allow truths like Julian and Wikileaks have revealed to undermine its subjugation of the masses. As long as we all avoid this truth we will continue to see the horrors of capitalisms imperialist and nationalistic nature consume journalists like Julian and any voice of reason

  8. rosemerry
    April 20, 2022 at 10:04

    British Justice- a contradiction in terms.

  9. fred mrozek
    April 20, 2022 at 09:54

    All the judicial authorities who have allowed Assange to be held and who allow this injustice to continue should expect to ultimately receive the same justice they have meted out to Julian.

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