By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent
LONDON (Worthy News) – The founder of the website WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, has lost his latest attempt to fight extradition from Britain to the United States, where he is wanted on spying charges. However, he will renew his appeal next week, representatives said.
The detained Assange, 51, is sought by U.S. authorities on 18 charges relating to WikiLeaks’ release of vast troves of confidential U.S. military records and diplomatic cables.
His supporters view it as an injustice and an attack on press freedom. Washington argues Assange’s work endangered intelligence agency workers.
His wife, Stella Assange, said Friday he would contest the United Kingdom High Court’s decision to reject his appeal against extradition to the United States.
“On Tuesday next week, my husband Julian Assange will make a renewed application for appeal to the High Court,” she said on the social media platform Twitter.
“The matter will then proceed to a public hearing before two new judges at the High Court. And we remain optimistic that we will prevail and that Julian will not be extradited to the United States where he faces charges that could result in him spending the rest of his life in a maximum security prison,” she wrote.
She said her husband was threatened with jail “for publishing true information that revealed war crimes committed by the U.S. government.”
WikiLeaks first became prominent in 2010 when it released hundreds of thousands of secret classified files and diplomatic cables. It was seen as the most significant security breach of its kind in U.S. military history.
Assange sought refuge inside Ecuador’s London Embassy from 2012 until he was arrested in April 2019 for skipping bail during a separate legal battle. He was later moved to London’s high-security Belmarsh Prison, where his health reportedly deteriorated.
In January 2021, a British judge ruled Australian-born Assange should not be extradited. The judge argued that his mental health meant he would be at risk of suicide if convicted and held in a maximum security prison.
But that decision was overturned after an appeal by U.S. authorities who gave a package of assurances, including a pledge he could be transferred to Australia to serve any sentence.
The extradition was signed off by the then-British interior minister last June.
If convicted, Assange faces up to 175 years in prison. His lawyers have repeatedly argued that he will not get a fair trial if he is extradited to the United States, a view shared by his supporters.
Advocacy group Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said it was “deeply concerned” about the High Court’s decision which brings Assange “dangerously close” to being deported.
“It is absurd that a single judge can issue a three-page decision that could land Julian Assange in prison for the rest of his life and permanently impact the climate for journalism around the world,” said Rebecca Vincent, RSF’s director of campaigns.
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