On 4 January 2021, a UK judge ruled that extraditing Julian Assange to the United States would be oppressive, would lead to his death and must be stopped. Mr. Assange faces a 175-year sentence.
Two days before leaving office the Trump Administration appealed this decision, and appeal arguments were heard by the UK’s High Court on 27-28 October 2021. The High Court is due to rule on the U.S. appeal imminently. See Julian Assange’s full response to the U.S. appeal effort here.
The U.S. purports to give “assurances” about the treatment Julian Assange would face in a U.S. prison, in its attempt to overturn the district judge’s opinion. These “assurances” specifically allow the U.S. to inflict extreme isolation on Mr. Assange, explicitly asserting that the U.S. government can still impose the very prison conditions that the magistrate found would kill him. Amnesty International says these so-called assurances “leave Mr. Assange at risk of ill-treatment” are “inherently unreliable” and “should be rejected.”
The U.S. prosecution is entirely related to documents Julian Assange published in 2010 revealing war crimes and major human rights abuses. Mr. Assange faces a 175-year sentence if extradited.
The decision to prosecute Julian Assange has been universally condemned by all major free speech, human rights and media organizations as an unprecedented threat to the public’s right to know.
The ACLU and 24 other groups recently reiterated their opposition to Julian Assange’s prosecution as a “grave threat to journalists and freedom of the press” which the government should “drop immediately” following the extraordinary revelation that the CIA deployed a multipronged physical and informational operation against WikiLeaks which included plans to assassinate or kidnap Mr. Assange. Discussions over kidnapping or killing Mr. Assange occurred “at the highest levels” of the U.S. administration.
Julian Assange is being held as an unconvicted remand inmate at the high-security Belmarsh prison, where he has been since April 2019. Prior to this he spent seven years in effective detention in London’s Ecuadorian Embassy, having been granted political asylum. Mr. Assange has been in detention in one form or another since 2010. Mr. Assange’s fiancée Stella Moris, and their two young children who are British live in the UK. Mr. Assange is an Australian national who has worked in the UK for many years.
Reporters Without Borders and the UK National Union of Journalists say: “Our government must ensure the UK is a safe place for journalists and publishers to work. Whilst Julian Assange remains in prison facing extradition, it is not.”