By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
LONDON (Worthy News) – WikiLeaks website founder Julian Assange received permission Monday to appeal a decision to extradite him from Britain to the United States where he could be jailed for life on espionage charges.
He faces 18 charges over the release of hundreds of 500,000 classified U.S. documents, mainly relating to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Assange has been in Britain’s Belmarsh prison since April 2019, when he was dragged out of the Ecuadorian embassy where he had lived seven years.
However, British judges who earlier approved it now say he can seek a Supreme Court appeal against his extradition.
The High Court in London in December overturned a lower court’s ruling not to send him to the United States on the grounds he would be a suicide risk.
In January last year, Westminster Magistrates’ Court blocked Assange’s extradition due to concerns for his mental health.
But the High Court in London overturned on appeal in December after the US offered assurances that he serve his sentence in Australia.
However, Assange’s lawyers said those assurances were meaningless because they could be reversed.
They successfully argued that the country’s highest court should rule on “points of law of general public importance.”
“The respondent’s application to certify a point of law is granted,” answered judges Ian Burnett and Timothy Holroyde in a written ruling.
The judges made clear, however, that they were not granting him a right of appeal at the Supreme Court, but Assange had the right to do so himself.
It was not immediately clear when and if the Supreme Court would hear the case of the 50-year-old Australian.
Yet crowds gathering outside the Royal Courts of Justice in central London welcomed the decision not to extradite him now as a victory in their perceived fight for press freedom.
However, Washington says his WikiLeaks work put lives in danger by revealing classified information.
Yet, Assange’s fiancee and the mother of his two young children, Stella Moris, emerged from the court smiling and visibly relieved. “What happened in court today is precisely what we wanted to happen,” she said.
“The situation now is that the Supreme Court has to decide whether it will hear the appeal. But make no mistake, we won today in court.
If there were justice, the crimes that Julian exposed — war crimes, the killing of innocent civilians — would not be impugned, Moris added.
“Our fight goes on. We will fight this until Julian’s free.”
WikiLeaks editor Kristinn Hrafnsson hailed Monday’s ruling as a “partial victory,” calling the US charges against Assange were “a blatant terrorist attack on press freedom worldwide.”
Assange could be jailed for up to 175 years in the United States, although experts say the exact sentence is difficult to predict.
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