U.S. Begins Legal Appeal to Extradite Assange

Julian Assange may soon be headed to the U.S. to stand trial. The U.S. government has begun a legal appeal to extradite Assange back to the U.S. from the UK. 

The Wikileaks founder is wanted over the publication of hundreds of thousands of classified documents in 2010 and 2011. He is wanted on allegations of conspiracy to obtain and disclose national defense information, following the publication of these documents, all relating to the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. 

This latest update marks a fresh attempt to extradite Assange from Britain. Lawyers are arguing that concerns over Assange’s mental health should not prevent him from standing trial in the U.S. 

In January, a court ruled that Assange could not be extradited due to concerns of mental health. His lawyer told the court that the risk of suicide was imminent, and likely to occur the moment extradition happened. The district judge overseeing the extradition appeal said that while his actions arguable amounted to a crime, he could not be transferred because he was unwell. 

This week, a lawyer representing the U.S. told the Lord Chief Justice and Lord Justice Holroyde that this conclusion was wrong, and the psychiatrist misled the earlier judge. 

The leaked documents revealed information about the US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Documents showed how the U.S. military was responsible for killing hundreds of civilians during the Afghanistan war in unreported incidents.

In Iraq, files detailed that 66,000 civilians were killed, and that prisoners were tortured by Iraqi forces. The U.S. claims the released documents endangered lives. But Assange says their case is exclusively politically motivated. 

Assange has been in the Belmarsh Prison since 2019, when he was escorted out of the Ecuadorian embassy in London by police, and arrested for breaching bail conditions. 

He had been inside the Ecuadorian embassy since 2012, avoiding extradition to Sweden on separate charges. The Swedish charges were for sexual offense allegations, which were eventually, and controversially, dropped. 

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