Statement from Assange’s legal team, Birnberg Peirce Solicitors
On 24 January 2022, the High Court (the Lord Chief Justice and Lord Justice Holroyde) certified that a point of law of public importance had been raised by Mr Assange following its rejection of his appeal.
The point certified for the potential consideration by the Supreme Court was
“In what circumstances can an appellate court receive assurances from a requesting state which were not before the court of first instance in extradition proceedings.”
A panel of three judges of the Supreme Court has considered the application on paper, and this afternoon (14 March 2022) refused permission to appeal on the basis that “the application does not raise an arguable point of law.”
We regret that the opportunity has not been taken to consider the troubling circumstances in which Requesting States can provide caveated guarantees after the conclusion of a full evidential hearing. In Mr Assange’s case, the Court had found that there was a real risk of prohibited treatment in the event of his onward extradition.
We explain below the legal processes that now follow in his case.
The case, on the direction of the High Court, will now be remitted to Westminster Magistrates’ Court, whose function thereafter is limited to referring the decision for extradition to the Home Secretary, Priti Patel.
The Home Secretary then decides whether to order or refuse extradition to the United States on a number of statutory bases. The defence is entitled to make submissions to the Home Secretary within the following four weeks, in advance of her making any decision.
It will be recollected that Mr Assange succeeded in Westminster Magistrates’ Court on the issue subsequently appealed by the US to the High Court. No appeal to the High Court has yet been filed by him in respect of the other important issues he raised previously in Westminster Magistrates’ Court. That separate process of appeal, of course, has yet to be initiated.
Statement from Assange’s partner, Stella Moris
From Moris’ new Substack newsletter:
Just this morning on our way to school, our four-year-old son asked me when daddy will come home. Julian’s life is being treated as if it were expendable. He has been robbed of over a decade of liberty, and three years from his home and his young children who are being forced to grow up without their father.
A system that allows this is a system that has lost its way.
Whether Julian is extradited or not, which is the same as saying whether he lives or dies, is being decided through a process of legal avoidance. Avoiding to hear arguments that challenge the UK courts’ deference to unenforceable and caveated claims regarding his treatment made by the United States, the country that plotted to murder him. The country whose atrocities he brought into the public domain. Julian is the key witness, the principle indicter, and the cause of enormous embarrassment to successive US governments.
Julian was just doing his job, which was to publish the truth about wrongdoing. His loyalty is the same as that which all journalists should have: to the public. Not to the spy agencies of a foreign power. He published evidence that the country that is trying to extradite him committed war crimes and covered them up; that it committed gross violations that killed tens of thousands of innocent men, women and children; that it tortured and rendered; that it bombed children, had death squads, and murdered Reuters journalists in cold blood; that it bribed foreign officials and bullied less powerful countries into harming their own citizens, and that it also corrupted allied nations’ judicial inquiries into US wrongdoing. For this, that country wants him in prison for 175 years.
Now the extradition will formally move to a political stage. Julian’s fate now lies in the hands of Home Secretary Priti Patel. This is a political case and she can end it. It is in her hands to prove that the UK is better than all of this. Patel can end Britain’s exposure to international ridicule because of Julian’s incarceration. It takes political courage but that is what it needed to preserve an open society that protects publishers from foreign persecution.
The cruelty against Julian is corrupting. It corrupts our most cherished values and institutions. They will be extinguished and lost forever unless this travesty is brought to an end.
The fight for freedom will go on, until he’s freed.