The High Court of England and Wales in a three-page decision rejected all eight grounds for appeal, opening Julian Assange up to extradition to the U.S.
By Joe Lauria
Special to Consortium News
A single judge on the High Court of England and Wales has rejected imprisoned WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange’s nearly year-old request to appeal the British decision to extradite him to the United States to stand trial on espionage and computer intrusion charges.
Assange’s legal team has one last recourse in the U.K. and has five days to request a hearing before the court.
Stella Assange, Assange’s wife, issued this statement on Thursday:
“On Tuesday next week my husband Julian Assange will make a renewed application for appeal to the High Court. The matter will then proceed to a public hearing before two new judges at the High Court and we remain optimistic that we will prevail and that Julian will not be extradited to the United States where he faces charges that could result in him spending the rest of his life in a maximum security prison for publishing true information that revealed war crimes committed by the U.S. government.”
On Tuesday next week my husband Julian Assange will make a renewed application for appeal to the High Court. The matter will then proceed to a public hearing before two new judges at the High Court and we remain optimistic that we will prevail and that Julian will not…
— Stella Assange #FreeAssangeNOW (@Stella_Assange) June 8, 2023
The single judge on the court, Sir Jonathan Swift, issued the 3-page decision on Tuesday. It is not yet publicly available on the High Court’s website.
In December, Assange appealed to the European Court of Human Rights. The court could issue an emergency injunction to stop Assange’s extradition until it examines the case.
Assange initially won the case against extradition in the lower court based on his health and conditions of U.S. prisons. This was overturned by the High Court after the court accepted U.S. written assurances that Assange would not be mistreated in U.S. prisons.
An application from Assange to the U.K. Supreme Court to appeal that decision was not granted. In July last year Assange’s team filed a cross appeal to the High Court on eight grounds including that the prosecution was political and that it violated the U.S.-U.K. extradition treaty barring extradition for political offenses.
It was this application for appeal that Swift rejected 11 months later.
The reaction from press freedom groups was swift.
Intn'l Federation of Journalists: "The UK decision to allow the extradition of #Assange is vindictive and a real blow to media freedom"
Amnesty: "sends a chilling message to journalists the world over"
RSF: "implications for journalism around the world cannot be overstated" pic.twitter.com/HnYwfzvf6y
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) June 8, 2023
“It is absurd that a single judge can issue a three-page decision that could land Julian Assange in prison for the rest of his life and permanently impact the climate for journalism around the world,” said Rebecca Vincent, director of campaigns at Reporters Without Borders.
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 [email protected] and followed on Twitter @unjoe