Julian Assange: British court decides on extradition of WikiLeaks founder in the US in “biggest case of press freedom in decades”


Assange, 49, who enraged and embarrassed Washington when his website published details of the reality of the so-called “war on terror”, faces a total of 17 espionage and computer hacking charges in the United States. He could be sentenced to up to 175 years in a maximum security prison.

His fate will be decided by a British district judge, Vanessa Baraitser, who will deliver her verdict on Monday morning in London’s Central Criminal Court, better known as the Old Bailey. If the judge approves Washington’s motion, a final decision will be made by Priti Patel, the home secretary, likely in consultation with Boris Johnson.

Meanwhile, Mr. Assange’s lawyers plan to appeal if they lose.

Mr Assange’s supporters point out that after a series of hearings that began last February in 2 Old Bailey’s Court, the same courtroom where the Guildford Four were wrongly convicted of the Guildford Pub, to be announced bomb attacks.

A number of high-profile personalities in the media world who have quarreled with Mr. Assange in the course of his work, including former ones Guardian The editor Alan Rusbridger, who has published much of the information provided by Chelsea Manning and Mr. Assange, has emerged as a proxy.

John Shipton, father of Julian Assange, says a case against his son is supposed to cover up war crimes

WikiLeaks spokesman Kristinn Hrafnsson said on Sunday The independent The hearing was the most important case of press freedom in decades.

“This is a rationale for reporting truthful information about our governments and agencies,” he said. “And the precedent that will be set here when Julian Assange is extradited is that no one is safe.”

Also on Sunday, Stella Morris, Ms. Assange’s partner and mother of two of his children, repeated her call for her husband’s release.

“Leaders, from former vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin to Nobel Prize winners like human rights activist Adolfo Perez Esquivel, have called for Julian’s freedom,” she wrote in the Mail on Sunday.

“So far there has been no pardon. But tomorrow a British judge will decide whether to order Julian’s extradition or to decline the US government’s request. “

She added: “The extermination of Julian would be so obviously unfair that it seems impossible. But it is not. At times like these, our rights are most easily taken from us. “

Events uncovered by WikiLeaks included an incident in Iraq in 2007 when two US AH-64 Apache helicopters aimed at some buildings and then bumped into a group of people. More than a dozen were killed, including two Reuters journalists. None of them were armed.

“Oh yes, look at those dead bastards,” was a US aviator heard on the video footage.

Wikileaks released the video and a transcript in the spring of 2010. A month later, Ms. Manning, then a US Army intelligence analyst, was arrested, charged, and convicted.

She was sentenced to 35 years in prison by a military tribunal and served seven years in prison before her sentence was commuted by the outgoing Barack Obama.

Speaking from Australia last week before the case, John Shipton, Mr Assange’s father, said he feared his son would be taken to the US and “broken out of revenge”.

“It’s just wretched injustice. I call it the plague of malice, ”he said.

Veteran journalist John Pilger, like Australian citizen Assange, said if he were extradited, no reporters questioning power would be safe.

He said Mr. Assange was a threat to Washington because he and his organization had “lifted America’s facade”.

“It exposed America’s routine war crimes, the lies of its policy makers, and Orwellian surveillance,” he said.

“In addition, the WikiLeaks revelations were 100 percent authentic. The public service that this represents is unparalleled, investigative journalism at its best. “

A total of 17 of the 18 charges against Mr Assange were brought under the Espionage Act of 1917, which does not allow a defendant to argue that they acted in the public interest.



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