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Julian Assange loses latest bid to halt US extradition

June 9, 2023

A UK court has rejected an attempted appeal by the WikiLeaks' founder who is fighting extradition to the US.

Stella Assange, wife of imprisoned journalist, publisher and Wikileaks founder Julian Assange attends the Free Assange Quad Rally in Sydney
Assange is planning to continue seeking legal avenues to prevent his extradition to the USImage: Steven Saphore/AA/picture alliance

WikiLeaks' founder Julian Assange has lost another attempt to block his extradition from the UK to the US, according to a court order published on Friday.

The 51-year-old is facing 18 charges in the US over the release of a series of confidential US military documents and diplomatic cables.

The judge at the UK's High Court, Jonathan Swift, turned down Assange's most recent appeal against extradition on the grounds that it would simply "re-run" arguments that have previously been made.

Back-and-forth on US extradition

A British judge previously ruled against extradition to the US, arguing that Assange was likely to commit suicide due to the harsh prison conditions and potentially long term that he might serve in the US.

But following assurances from US authorities that the Australian-born Assange would not face conditions that would harm his physical and mental health, extradition was authorized in 2022.

This included a pledge that he would be sent to Australia to serve any prison time.

Swift said that none of the eight parts of Assange's appeal were "arguable" and refused to hear them in court.

"The proposed appeal comes to no more than an attempt to re-run the extensive arguments made to and rejected by the district judge," he said.

Assange to continue fight against extradition

The WikiLeaks founder plans to renew his appeal next week but has almost exhausted all of his legal avenues. A possible option left to him would be to take his case to the European Court of Human Rights.

As it stands, he is set to face 17 charges of espionage and one charge of computer misuse.

"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 wife Stella wrote on Twitter.

Europe's press freedom at risk?

He is currently being held in London's high-security Belmarsh Prison. He was arrested in 2019 over skipping bail in a previous case which saw him seek refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in London — which remained his home for seven years.

The previous case, which revolved around charges of sexual assault in Sweden, was dropped in 2019, but UK authorities kept him in prison due to the pending status of his extradition to the US.

ab/jcg (AP, Reuters)