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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Former state dept. official says welcomes London court decision on Julian Assange

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Former State Department official and a retired US Army colonel Ann Wright told Sputnik that she welcomes the UK High Court’s decision to grant WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange more time to appeal his extradition to the United States and described the state of US prisons as terrible.

“Today, the court has given [Assange] more time before a US extradition can come about. So, it’s several months more, tragically still in prison, but at least the US is not just about to take him here to the US to put him in a terrible prison and it would be horrible if he is extradited here,” Wright told Sputnik on Tuesday.

Wright expressed her hope that after spending some more time researching the state of US prisons the UK court will conclude that it cannot extradite Assange to the United States, as it will be torture for him.

Earlier in the day, the court ruled that Assange has a real prospect of success on three of the nine grounds of appeal. The court, in particular, asked the US government to provide assurances that the WikiLeaks founder would be able to claim the First Amendment of the US Constitution, which guarantees freedoms related to religion, expression, assembly, and the right to petition.

The court also asked that Assange be ensured trial without prejudice to his nationality and that he would not face the death penalty. The next hearing is scheduled for May 20 if the parties submit the necessary documents. Following the court’s decision, Assange’s wife Stella called on the US to drop its “shameful” case against her husband.

Assange, an Australian citizen, was transferred to London’s high-security Belmarsh prison in April 2019 on bail breach charges. In the US, he faces prosecution under the Espionage Act for obtaining and disclosing classified information that shed light on war crimes and human rights violations committed by US troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

If convicted, the WikiLeaks founder could face up to 175 years in prison. One of the last means of preventing his transfer to the US may be an appeal to the European Court of Human Rights. Assange lost his previous appeal at the UK High Court last June.

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