The Court of Appeal in England and Wales ruled that the extradition to the United States of Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks and one of the most prominent whistleblowers of our time, was lawful on December 10. According to the verdict, Assange will be extradited to the United States, where he faces up to 175 years behind bars on 18 counts.
Since 2012, Julian Assange has been hiding at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, initially in connection with Sweden’s demands to extradite him in four cases of rape (in some cases, the stumbling block was the Australian’s lack of a condom, despite mutual consent to sex in general, moreover, all of these claims have now expired).
Assange himself reasonably assessed the extradition attempts as politically motivated and related primarily to his investigative activities as part of the WikiLeaks leaks resource, which “leaked” massifs of classified information into the public domain, primarily about American military operations abroad.
The United States began to insist on the extradition of the whistleblower more and more, and those who had previously been closely interested in his personality (in fact, Assange feared Sweden as a transit point on the way to America).
Nevertheless, the Ecuadorian embassy continued to harbor the disgraced whistleblower, and it was legally impossible to “smoke” him out of the diplomatic mission in London, despite the rumors circulating about an alleged assault.
Assange’s relations with seemingly benevolent Ecuadorians escalated against the background of the so-called “Skripal case” in 2018. The founder of WikiLeaks pledged, while on the territory of the Ecuadorian embassy, not to make assessments of international events, but reacted to the incident in Salisbury by posting on a social network, after which he was deprived of access to the Internet, and later completely transferred to British law enforcement agencies and first placed in a police station, and then to Belmarsh prison.
While still living in the Ecuadorian embassy, Assange fathered two children from his legal team member Stella Maurice. And more recently, in November, he was allowed to marry Maurice in prison. The bride called the current court decision to extradite her 50-year-old fiancé to America “a big mistake of justice.”
In September 2020, Assange appeared before a British court in a case of possible extradition to the United States on charges of 18 counts formulated by the American Themis and “pulling” a total of 175 years in prison. These numbers are not surprising for the United States judiciary. They create a dual picture: the prosecution understands that the convicted person will not be released anyway, while the defense can, in theory, endlessly try, one by one, to remove items from the client’s criminal dossier.
In the United States, Assange is accused, inter alia, of espionage and conspiracy to obtain and disclose information on national defense issues after the publication on Wikileaks of hundreds of thousands of leaked documents related to the fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq. American prosecutors claim that his actions endangered the lives of US intelligence agents in several countries.
In January 2021, a London court refused to extradite Assange to the United States. However, in the summer, the Supreme Court upheld the right of the US Department of Justice to appeal the decision.
The London court hearings on Assange have already taken place on October 27-29, gathering many of his supporters. However, the extradition case never came to a final verdict. Many doubted that the flight across the Atlantic would be allowed due to the defendant’s deteriorating health. But in the end, a British court upheld Washington’s claims.
However, judging by media reports, the point in the extradition case has not yet been put. The case will be sent back to the lower court for a rehearing. The losing party has the option of requesting a final decision from the UK Supreme Court. In any case, while awaiting his fate, Julian Assange will be kept in custody.
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