Julian Assange Faces Final Appeal of Order Seeking His Extradition to America To Face Espionage Charges

Prosecutors in the United States are seeking to charge him under the 1917 Espionage Act, which has never before been used against a journalist.

AP/Kirsty Wigglesworth, file
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in 2011. AP/Kirsty Wigglesworth, file

The founder of the whistleblowing website Wikileaks, Julian Assange, will make his case at a hearing on Tuesday before the High Court at London as he fights against his impending extradition to America.

If the High Court clears the way for extradition, Assange could be sentenced for up to 175 years in prison on the charge of stealing and publishing classified information about American military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Prosecutors in the United States are seeking to charge him under the 1917 Espionage Act, which has never before been used against a journalist.

The case against Mr. Assange has become a tug-of-war between the national security interests of the American government and the symbol of media freedom across the world. The whistleblower has been embroiled in a long legal drama in British courts, having been  detained in the maximum-security Belmarsh Prison for nearly five years and previously spending seven years under diplomatic asylum at London’s Ecuadorian Embassy.

Mr. Assange’s lawyers now have two days of scheduled arguments as they seek to appeal an extradition decision made in 2022 by London’s home secretary, Priti Patel. He “will die” if he loses the appeal, his wife, Stella Assange, warned reporters at London last week, pointing to his declining mental and physical health after years of detainment.

Mr. Assange has insisted that the case against him is politically motivated and the files he released exposed serious abuses by America’s armed forces. In 2010, Wikileaks collaborated with leading media organizations to publish more than ten million documents, many of which included confidential or restricted official reports related to war, spying, and corruption. 

A  “high-tech terrorist” is how then-Vice President, Joe Biden, described Mr. Assange after WikiLeaks published the documents. 

In 2019, the Department of Justice called the leaks “one of the largest compromises of classified information in the history of the United States.”

Human rights advocates have long argued in defense of Mr. Assange’s rights as a journalist. “The ongoing prosecution of Julian Assange,” two organizations, the International Federation of Journalists and the European Federation of Journalists, said in a recent joint statement, “jeopardizes media freedom everywhere in the world.”

German politicians have also spoken of Mr. Assange as a political prisoner. The Green Party parliamentarian Max Lucks, for one, has said his detainment is “politically motivated.”

Mr Assange’s lawyers say that American authorities could subject him to up to 175 years in jail, but government officials have said a sentence of between four and six years is more likely.

The New York Sun

© 2024 The New York Sun Company, LLC. All rights reserved.

Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. The material on this site is protected by copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, cached or otherwise used.

The New York Sun

Sign in or  create a free account

By continuing you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use