Jan 24, 2022 14:16 UTC
  • UK court allows WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to appeal decision to extradite him to US

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has won the right to challenge a UK court ruling allowing him to be extradited to the United States to face espionage charges.

The High Court in London on Monday allowed Assange to ask the UK Supreme Court to block his extradition to the United States. However, the court did not grant Assange permission for a direct appeal. That means it is now up to the Supreme Court to decide whether or not to hear his challenge.

It normally takes the UK Supreme Court about eight sitting weeks to accept an appeal once an application is submitted to the court.

According to Press TV, the decision comes more than a month after two senior judges in the High Court overturned a January 2021 ruling by a lower court that opened the door for Assange's extradition to the United States on the basis of assurances that he would not be mistreated.

Assange is wanted in the US over the publication of thousands of classified documents more than a decade ago. The Justice Department has charged the embattled whistleblower under the Espionage Act in connection with obtaining and publishing secret government documents.

The case has raised novel First Amendment issues and alarmed advocates of media freedom. Assange’s supporters and human rights advocates also say the charges against him are politically motivated.

The US government has been attempting to extradite Assange under a treaty with the United Kingdom for publishing damning documents related to US war crimes in Iraq, Afghanistan, and human rights violations elsewhere. He can be jailed for decades if put on trial in the US.

Assange’s fiancee, Stella Moris celebrated the Monday ruling as a victory. “Make no mistake, we won today in court,” she said outside the courthouse, noting that he remains in custody at Belmarsh Prison in London.

“Julian has to be freed,” Morris said. “And we hope that this will soon end. We are far from achieving justice in this case.”

“We will fight this until Julian is free,” she added.