Julian Assange tries to obtain a last appeal against his extradition


Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is trying from Tuesday to obtain from British justice a last appeal against his extradition to the United States, which wants to try him for a massive leak of documents.

As the hearing approaches, his supporters warned of the risks weighing on the life of the 52-year-old Australian, detained for almost five years in the United Kingdom, in a case erected as a symbol of the threats weighing on freedom of the press.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, British justice must examine the refusal to authorize Julian Assange to appeal his extradition to the United States, accepted in June 2022 by the British government.

“If he loses, there is no longer any possibility of appealing” in the United Kingdom, his wife Stella Assange, with whom he had two children when he was secluded in the embassy, told the BBC on Monday. from Ecuador in the British capital.

“We hope to have time to refer the matter to the European Court of Human Rights” to intervene in time, she stressed. If he is extradited, “he will die,” she said last week.

In January 2021, British justice initially ruled in favor of the founder of Wikileaks. Citing a risk of suicide for the founder of Wikileaks, judge Vanessa Baraitser refused to give the green light to extradition. But this decision was later reversed.

– “Alcatraz of the Rockies” –

In an attempt to reassure him about the treatment that would be inflicted on him, the United States affirmed that he would not be incarcerated at the very high security ADX prison in Florence (Colorado), nicknamed the “Alcatraz of the Rockies” and that he would receive the necessary clinical and psychological care. The Americans had also raised the possibility that he could ask to serve his sentence in Australia.

These guarantees convinced the British justice system, but not the supporters of Julian Assange, who denounce political prosecutions.

Julian Assange faces up to 175 years in prison. He is being prosecuted for having published since 2010 more than 700,000 confidential documents on American military and diplomatic activities, particularly in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Among them was a video showing civilians, including two Reuters journalists, killed by fire from a US helicopter gunship in Iraq in July 2007.

These documents were obtained thanks to American soldier Chelsea Manning. Sentenced in August 2013 to 35 years in prison by a court martial, she was released after seven years following a sentence commuted by Barack Obama.

In recent days, expressions of support have increased for Julian Assange, who benefits from the support of numerous journalist organizations.

– “Enough is enough” –

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has attacked the US prosecution of the Wikileaks founder, and the Australian Parliament last week passed a motion calling for an end to it.

“This matter cannot go on forever,” Mr Albanese told Parliament, adding that Australians on all sides agreed that “enough is enough”.

Mr Albanese said he had raised Mr Assange’s case “at the highest levels” in the UK and the US.

The founder of Wikileaks was arrested by British police in 2019 after seven years of confinement in the Ecuadorian embassy in London to avoid extradition to Sweden in a rape investigation, dismissed in 2019. He is currently detained in Belmarsh high security prison in east London.

At the beginning of February, the UN Special Rapporteur on torture, independent expert Alice Jill Edwards, called on the British government to suspend the extradition procedure: “Julian Assange has long suffered from periodic depressive disorder. He been assessed as a suicide risk.

According to her, “the risk that he will be placed in solitary confinement for a prolonged period despite his precarious state of mental health, and that his conviction could be disproportionate raises the question of whether the extradition of Mr. Assange to the United States United Kingdom would be consistent with the UK’s international human rights obligations.

This article is originally published on .rtl.be


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