U.S. Seeks Extradition of Assange from U.K. to Face Espionage Charges

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The United States has asked Britain’s High Court to overturn a judge’s decision that Julian Assange should not be sent to the United States to face espionage charges, promising that the WikiLeaks founder would be able to serve any prison sentence he receives in his native Australia, reports the Associated Press. In January, 2021, a lower court judge refused an American request to extradite Assange on spying charges, saying Assange was likely to kill himself if held under harsh U.S. prison conditions.

Countering arguments that Assange would be at risk in a U.S. prison, authorities had promised he would not be held before trial in a top-security “Supermax” prison or subjected to strict isolation conditions, and would be allowed in the event of a conviction to serve any sentence in Australia. U.S. prosecutors have indicted Assange on 17 espionage charges and one charge of computer misuse over WikiLeaks’ publication of thousands of leaked military and diplomatic documents. The charges carry a maximum sentence of 175 years in prison. The two justices hearing the appeal — who include England’s most senior judge, Lord Chief Justice Ian Burnett — are not expected to give their ruling for several weeks, which may then be appealed in the U.K. Supreme Court.

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