The Guardian • Issue #2100

Assange wins appeal against extradition ruling

  • The Guardian
  • Issue #2100
Ecuador, 2014.

Photo: David G Silvers, Cancillería del Ecuador, 2014 – (CC-BY-SA-2.0)

Julian Assange can appeal against the decision to grant his extradition to the United States, the UK High Court ruled on 20 May.

The WikiLeaks founder faces 18 charges in the US relating to the leaking and publication of the Iraq and Afghan war logs in 2010.

During a two-day hearing in February, lawyers for the 52-year-old asked for permission to challenge a previous judge’s dismissal of his case against extradition.

Dame Victoria Sharp and Justice Johnson rejected most of Assange’s legal arguments but deferred their final decision.

They added that unless “satisfactory” assurances were given by the US, he would be able to bring an appeal on three grounds.

Those assurances were that Assange would be protected by and allowed to rely on the US constitution’s first amendment – which protects freedom of speech – that he would not be “prejudiced at trial” by his nationality and that the death penalty would not be imposed.

The two judges granted permission for the challenge on the freedom of speech and nationality points, meaning Assange will be able to bring an appeal.

Hundreds of people had gathered outside the hearing, with supporters cheering and drumming as news of the decision filtered out of the courtroom.

Assange had been given the option of attending the hearing in person, the court heard, but was too unwell to either make the journey or join by video link.

Speaking after the hearing, his wife Stella Assange said that the judges had “reached the right decision,” and called on the US to drop the “shameful” case.

She said: “I spoke to Julian after we got the decision. He was able to take a walk in the sun after the first bit of good news for a long time.

“The US administration should take this as a moment to drop the case and distance itself from the terrible prosecution.”

International Federation of Journalists president Dominque Pradalie, who was in court to hear its decision, said: “This is a great moment for common sense and the rule of law.

“Julian Assange is being persecuted; the sooner these proceedings come to an end, the better.”

National Union of Journalists general secretary Michelle Stanistreet said: “The charges against Assange are clearly for journalistic work – his prosecution endangers reporters everywhere.

“Only when this prosecution is dropped will this threat to free speech be brought to an end.”

Morning Star

Guardian view: Try harder Albanese

“The only way this is going to come to a quick conclusion is though the Australian government’s advocacy … using their leverage with the United States to get Julian home.” That’s Gabriel Shipton, Julian Assange’s brother, speaking after the news that Assange would be granted a right to appeal, but remain in Britain’s top-security Belmarsh Prison.

With all the happiness from supporters at Julian Assange’s ‘win’ on 21 May, it’s important to remember a few facts about the case.

Julian Assange is in prison for journalism which exposed war crimes by US troops.

He has been imprisoned one way or another ever since he embarrassed the USA.

It’s still possible for Assange to be extradited later. There is no guarantee that his appeal will succeed. What he’s got now, is leave to appeal, not the freedom justice demands.

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has been wringing his hands, saying that it’s time it was over. “Enough is enough, there’s nothing to be served by the ongoing incarceration of Mr Assange.” Albanese also said that his government works “very closely to achieve” Assange’s freedom.

Well, being very close to the United States is something Albanese is good at. That’s why his government is building expensive runways for US bombers. A fawning editorial in the Australian Financial Review just after his election described Albanese as a “safe pair of hands” because he committed to the Quad and AUKUS “without hesitation.” The same editorial praised Labor’s support for “peace, freedom, and stability.”

Where’s the freedom for this Australian journalist?

Albanese has said that supporting the ‘alliance’ with the US “shouldn’t mean that we are not prepared to put forward Australia’s national interest.”

Is having an innocent Australian locked up for more than 10 years in Australia’s national interest? If it’s a real ‘alliance’ and not a master-servant relationship, Albanese should be able to do more than just work very closely. He should get Assange home and free.


The Guardian can also be viewed/downloaded in PDF format. View More