Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is “dangerously close” to being extradited after a United Kingdom High Court ruling that rejected his appeal. His lawyers have said they will appeal again to the same court.
If extradited to the US, Assange could spend the rest of his life in prison for publishing thousands of classified military and diplomatic documents, the Guardian reported. A ruling issued on June 6, by Justice Swift, rejected all eight grounds of Assange’s appeal against the extradition order signed by then-UK Home Secretary Priti Patel in June 2022.
This leaves one final step in the UK courts-- the defence will now submit an appeal of about 20 pages to a panel of two judges in the next five working days. The judges will then convene a public hearing. Further appeals won't be possible in domestic courts, but, Assange can move to the European Court of Human Rights.
Stella Assange, Julian’s wife, wrote on Twitter, “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 US government.”
Assange's appeal had argued that Patel had erred in her decision to approve the extradition order. The extradition request violated the US-UK extradition treaty which states “Extradition shall not be granted if the offence for which extradition is requested is a political offence”. The appeal also argued that the extradition request itself was an abuse of process as he was being prosecuted for protected speech.
Assange’s brother, Gabriel Shipton, told the Guardian the high court rejection of his appeal was a serious development, “that leaves him dangerously close now to extradition”.