It’s been more than a decade since the website WikiLeaks released hundreds of thousands of classified documents and videos – some of which revealed possible US war crimes. Now WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has one more chance to appeal a UK ruling that would allow him to be extradited to the US.
Last month, a UK High Court ruled that Assange could be extradited to the US to face charges of hacking and violating the US Espionage Act. The ruling goes against a lower court that previously said harsh US prison conditions would endanger Assange given his worsening mental and physical health.
Assange’s legal team has since filed an appeal to Britain’s Supreme Court, but in order for the appeal to be considered, it must be deemed of “general public importance”.
In 2019, the Trump administration indicted Assange for violating the US Espionage Act on counts related to the WikiLeaks release of secret US military documents and diplomatic cables. The US argues the release of classified information put the lives of American allies in danger.
Twenty-four civil liberties and press freedom groups, including the ACLU, Human Rights Watch, PEN America and Reporters Without Borders have called on the Biden administration to stop its prosecution against Assange. In a joint letter to the US Justice Department, they argue that Assange’s prosecution could set a precedent that would harm press freedom and the safety of journalists reporting on national security issues.
Assange spent seven years in refuge at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London and was eventually arrested in 2019. Last week, Assange’s supporters marked his 1,000th day of imprisonment at London’s Belmarsh high security prison.
In this episode of The Stream, we’ll discuss the outlook for Assange’s case and its broader implications for press freedom worldwide.
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