WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange A legal victory was scored this Monday that allows him to continue fighting in the United Kingdom against his extradition to the United States, which claims him for 18 crimes of espionage and computer intrusion that, according to the defense, carry 175 years in prison in that country.
In a brief hearing in a packed room, the London High Court today allowed Assange, 50, to appeal his delivery in the next 14 days before the Supreme Court, the highest British judicial body, which must decide whether or not to admit his case.
Judges Ian Burnett and Tim Holroyde, who last December 10 authorized the extradition of the activist by approving a US resource in an appeal process, recognized in their brief ruling that there is a legal aspect raised by the defense that may deserve to be examined by the Supreme Court.
At the gates of the court, where supporters of the Australian, his partner and mother of his two minor children, Stella Moris, have gathered since the morning, he warned that justice is still “far from being achieved in this case.” “Our fight continues and we will fight until Julian is free,” he declared.
THE SUPREME DECIDE
”What has happened in court today is precisely what we wanted to happen. The High Court has certified that we have raised a legal issue of general public interest and that the Supreme Court has good reason to hear this appeal,” said the young woman.
“But let’s not forget every time we win that as long as this case is not dismissed and Julian is not released, he continues to suffer. For almost three years he has been in Belmarsh (high security) prison and is suffering deeply,” he recalled.
If the appeal is admitted, the Supreme Court would have to analyze whether it is acceptable for Washington to present during the appeal process last October, and not in the initial trial of first instance in January 2021, its guarantees about the treatment that the computer programmer will receive in American soil.
In their opinion today, the judges consider that Assange’s appeal should be denied, but since the Supreme Court has never ruled on this specific legal point, they leave it up to him to decide if he wants to examine it.
US GUARANTEES AT QUESTION
On December 10, the Superior Court agreed with Washington by accepting its appeal against the January ruling of Judge Vanessa Baraitser, who had denied the extradition of the WikiLeaks founder after considering that he presented a risk of suicide.
Burnett and Holroyde noted at the time that, before delivering their opinion, Baraitser should have informed the US Justice of his intentions, so that he could present guarantees on the prison regime that would be applied to the accused in order to minimize the risks to his health.
The judges added that, in any case, the guarantees presented a posteriori before the Court of Appeal “are sufficient” and therefore authorized the delivery of the journalist.
During the trial of October 27 and 28, the prosecutor James Lewis, representing the US, guaranteed that if he is extradited, Assange will not be subjected to “special administrative measures” (SAM, in English) such as having vetoed the visits or correspondence, nor would he enter the maximum security ADX Florence prison in Colorado, unless he later did something to deserve it.
In addition, Washington promised that, while in custody, the journalist would receive adequate psychological treatment and, if convicted, could serve it in his native Australia.
If the process continues in the Supreme Court, the defense will try to demonstrate what it already alleged then, that these guarantees were presented late and are not solid enough.
The United States persecutes Assange, who has been confined in England for more than a decade despite not having been convicted of any crime, for the publications on his WikiLeaks portal, which in 2010 and 2011 exposed abuses in that country in his Guantánamo detention center (Cuba) as well as alleged war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan.
(with information from EFE)
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