WikiLeaks Founder Gets Good News

( – Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, has scored a legal win in his battle to evade extradition to the United States after a court in the United Kingdom granted him the right to contest his extradition on charges related to espionage.

Monday’s decision adds another layer to the prolonged legal challenges he has faced over the years, National Review reports.

During the proceedings in London, Assange’s legal team contended that the assurances provided by the U.S. concerning protections for free speech were “blatantly inadequate” if Assange were to be extradited, according to the Associated Press.

If found guilty on all counts, Assange, who asserts he is a journalist, could be sentenced to as many as 175 years in prison.

Assange is accused under 18 separate criminal charges, which include 17 counts of espionage and one count of conspiracy to commit computer intrusion.

These charges stem from his 2010 release of confidential U.S. documents on WikiLeaks. The information made public included video of a U.S. airstrike in Baghdad, military records from the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, and diplomatic communications.

Assange and his legal representation maintain that his actions are shielded by the First Amendment and were conducted in the public interest.

Conversely, prosecutors argue that his disclosures compromised U.S. national security and put American operatives at risk.

The possibility to challenge the extradition order in the U.S. was met with celebration by Assange’s advocates.

His wife, Stella, remarked on the severe impact of the prolonged “shameful” legal proceedings on Assange.

Earlier, in March, the same U.K. court had tentatively allowed Assange to challenge his extradition, conditional upon the U.S. providing sufficient guarantees that he would be afforded the same First Amendment rights as a U.S. citizen and that he would not face the death penalty.

During Monday’s session, Assange’s legal team expressed their contentment with the U.S.’s assurances regarding the death penalty but remained dissatisfied with the protections for free speech, advocating for more robust guarantees.

U.S. federal prosecutors contended that Assange’s activities were not protected by the First Amendment.

“No one, neither U.S. citizens nor foreign citizens, are entitled to rely on the First Amendment in relation to publication of illegally obtained national defense information giving the names of innocent sources, to their grave and imminent risk of harm,” U.S. attorney James Lewis stated.

After seeking asylum for seven years in the Ecuadorian embassy in London to avoid capture, Assange was arrested in 2019.

Since then, he has been detained in a British high-security prison. Assange’s supporters continue to advocate for his welfare, highlighting the significant toll on his physical and mental health due to his prolonged confinement in the embassy from 2012 to 2019.

Recently, U.S. President Joe Biden acknowledged he was “considering” a plea from Australia to dismiss the case and permit Assange to return to his native country instead of facing extradition to the U.S.

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