Assange Wins First Stage in Effort to Appeal US Extradition

Julian Assange, infamous founder of WikiLeaks, won on Monday the first step of his ongoing effort to overturn a ruling made in the United Kingdom that opened the door for him to be extradited to the United States to stand trial on espionage charges. 

The High Court in London gave permission to Assange to make an appeal in the case, which will refer the case to the U.K. Supreme Court. But the high court must first agree that it will accept the case before it actually moves forward. 

It typically takes the Supreme Court about eight sitting weeks to decide whether to accept an appeal following the application for an appeal being submitted. 

The decision to allow Assange to appeal is the latest step in his long ongoing battle to avoid at all costs a trial in the U.S., where he would stand against a series of charges related to publishing classified documents on WikiLeaks more than a decade ago. 

About a year ago, a district court judge in London rejected a U.S. extradition request. The judge rejected it on the grounds that Assange was likely to commit suicide if he was held under harsh prison conditions in the U.S. 

This led to assurances being provided by the U.S. authorities that Assange would not face the severe treatment his lawyers feared and stated would put his mental and physical health at risk. 

Last month, the High Court overturned the decision made by the lower court, and declare that Assange could be extradited because the U.S. made promises enough to guarantee he would be treated humanely. 

Assange’s lawyers are attempting to appeal the ruling by specifying that the High Court did not offer these assurances until after the lower court made its ruling. The High Court said he could appeal, and if the Supreme Court does hear the case, it can decide in what circumstances an appellate court can receive assurances from a requesting state in processes of extradition. 

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