December 10, 2021 — Britain’s High Court ruled to approve the United States’ appeal of the District Judge’s decision not to extradite WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange, sending the case back down to the Magistrate’s level for his extradition to be ordered. Assange’s fiancee Stella Moris called the decision “dangerous and misguided” and a “grave miscarriage of justice.”
Lord Justice Holroyde summarized the ruling and explained that the High Court had denied three of the U.S. government’s five lines of appeal argument which dealt with District Judge Vanessa Barrister’s handling of evidence in assessing Julian Assange’s suicide risk upon the order of his extradition. The High Court granted the U.S. government’s two other grounds for appeal dealing with the so-called ‘assurances’ the U.S. purports to provide regarding the treatment Assange would receive in prison.
The U.S. had argued to the High Court that Judge Baraitser should have notified them during the extradition hearing that she was “minded” to rule against extradition on grounds of oppressive conditions so that it could provide assurances before she delivered her final verdict.
Assange’s defense argued in response, per the High Court’s summary, “The offer of assurances comes too late. They do not remove the real risk of detention subject to SAMs and/or in ADX, or the real risk of detention in ADSEG and at Alexandria Detention Centre. In any event, even if the assurances are admitted the appeal should not be allowed but the case remitted to the judge with a direction to decide the relevant question again.”
The High Court sided with the U.S. on this question, and found that the assurances the U.S. gave were responsive to Baraitser’s specific concerns regarding Assange’s prospective treatment. “It follows that we are satisfied that, if the assurances had been before the judge, she would have answered the relevant question differently,” they write.
In ruling to allow the U.S. government’s appeal, the High Court sends the case back down to the Westminster Magistrates’ Court with a direction for the district judge to then send the case to the Secretary of State to approve the extradition.
Responding to the ruling, Stella Moris said, “We will appeal this decision at the earliest possible moment.”