US wins appeal against block on Assange extradition

Posted on December 10, 2021, 11:31 am
2 mins

The US Government has won its High Court bid to overturn a judge’s decision not to extradite WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

Assange is wanted in the US on allegations of a conspiracy to obtain and disclose national defence information following WikiLeaks’s publication of hundreds of thousands of leaked documents relating to the Afghanistan and Iraq wars.

It marks the first step in the path to overturning a January ruling by then-district judge Vanessa Baraitser that Assange should not be sent to the US because doing so would present a real and “oppressive” risk of suicide.

After a two-day hearing in October, the Lord Chief Justice Lord Burnett, sitting with Lord Justice Holroyde, ruled in favour of the US on Friday.

Lord Burnett said: ‘That risk is in our judgment excluded by the assurances which are offered.

‘It follows that we are satisfied that, if the assurances had been before the judge, she would have answered the relevant question differently.’

He added: ‘That conclusion is sufficient to determine this appeal in the USA’s favour.’

James Lewis QC, for the US, said the district judge based her decision on Assange’s ‘intellectual ability to circumvent suicide preventative measures’, which risked becoming a ‘trump card’ for anyone who wanted to oppose their extradition regardless of any resources the other state might have.

Mr Lewis said that the four ‘binding’ diplomatic assurances made were a ‘solemn matter’ and ‘are not dished out like smarties’.

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