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Julian Assange will not be immediately extradited, U.K. court rules

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. File.
| Photo Credit: AP

WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange was on March 26 given a chance to continue his fight against extradition to the United States after the High Court in London said the U.S. needed to provide more assurances.

U.S. prosecutors are seeking to put Assange (52) on trial on 18 counts, all bar one under the Espionage Act, over WikiLeaks’ high-profile release of confidential U.S. military records and diplomatic cables.

Assange’s lawyers in February sought permission to challenge Britain’s approval of his extradition to the U.S., arguing his prosecution was politically motivated.

In their ruling, two senior judges said he had a real prospect of successfully appealing against extradition on a number of grounds.

Also read | The extradition saga of Julian Assange

The court has given the U.S. authorities an opportunity to provide “satisfactory assurances” on the questions of whether he was able to rely on the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and whether he could be subject to the death penalty.

If those assurances are not forthcoming, then Assange will be granted permission to appeal. A further hearing has been scheduled for May 20.

The U.S. argues the WikiLeaks’ revelations imperilled the lives of their agents and there was no excuse for his criminality.

Assange’s many supporters hail him as an anti-establishment hero who is being persecuted, despite being a journalist, for exposing U.S. wrongdoing and alleged war crimes.

The U.S. meanwhile said Assange had been charged for “indiscriminately and knowingly” publishing sources’ names and not his political opinions.

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