British Queen celebrates


Julian Assange has been granted permission to appeal the order for his extradition to the United States, where he faces charges for leaking military secrets.

This decision allows Assange to contest the US assurances regarding the conduct of his trial and the protection of his free speech rights.

Following the ruling, Assange's lawyers celebrated in court, marking another significant turn in the prolonged legal battle. They argue that the case against him, stemming from the release of highly classified documents about alleged US war crimes nearly 15 years ago, is politically motivated.

The US contends that the WikiLeaks disclosures, which included information about the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, put lives at risk by exposing sensitive data.

In a brief ruling on Monday morning, two senior judges granted Assange the right to a full appeal in the UK, overturning an earlier decision that permitted his extradition. Assange, who has fought against extradition for over a decade since WikiLeaks published confidential US documents in 2010 and 2011, remains in Belmarsh Prison as he prepares his appeal.

Outside the court, hundreds of supporters cheered upon hearing the decision. Had the court ruled in favor of the US, Assange would have exhausted all legal avenues in the UK.

His wife, Stella Assange, described the day as "decisive" in their ongoing battle. She urged the US to cease what she termed a "shameful attack on journalists, the press, and the public," which has persisted for 14 years.

The US Department of Justice has called the leak one of the largest compromises of classified information in US history, arguing that Assange endangered lives by not redacting the names of intelligence operatives. They maintain that he is not being prosecuted for exposing war crimes but for jeopardizing lives.

Assange's legal team insists that the prosecution is a politically motivated act of "state retaliation." Stella Assange emphasized that he exposed war crimes and characterized the case as the US's revenge against transparency and accountability.

In 2022, then-Home Secretary Priti Patel signed Assange's extradition order. However, he sought permission to appeal in the High Court in February 2024. At a March hearing, the US government was granted additional time to assure that Assange would not face the death penalty and could invoke the First Amendment's free speech protections, despite his Australian nationality.

Last month, judges confirmed that the US had provided these assurances. Assange's legal team has accepted that he will not face the death penalty if charged with other offenses.

James Lewis KC, representing the US government, stated in court that Assange would receive the full spectrum of due process rights, including First Amendment defenses, if extradited.

Meanwhile, US President Joe Biden recently indicated he is considering Australia's request to drop the prosecution and allow Assange to return to his home country. Photo by Espen Moe, Wikimedia commons.