Assange’s Extradition to US Is Delayed

( – WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has pushed back against US-led efforts to extradite him from the United Kingdom following his multiple indictments obtained by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia (EDV). Prosecutors charged the native-born Australian with conspiring with former US Army intel analyst Chelsea Manning to obtain and release roughly 750,000 intelligence files. A British court recently delayed his transfer to US custody, but not for long.

The British High Court of Justice’s King’s Bench Division issued an order on March 26 delaying Assange’s extradition to the US until May 20. The two-judge panel asked the Biden administration for assurances that officials would respect the WikiLeaks founder’s free speech rights despite not being a US citizen.

The High Court also sought formal reassurances that Assange wouldn’t face the imposition of a death sentence if convicted. US authorities have pointed out for years that none of the charges against him carry capital punishment as an option. However, Assange’s lawyers argue that there’s nothing to stop American prosecutors from issuing a third superseding indictment against their client, adding treason and espionage counts. Both those statutes carry a penalty up to death upon conviction.

The British court gave US authorities until April 16 to “file any assurances with the court.” Otherwise, the judges said they would grant Assange “leave to appeal” his extradition. The panel cited two of his lawyer’s nine written reasons for filing their application for an appeal as grounds for granting further legal review before approving his transfer to the US for prosecution.

Those reasons include the claim that “extradition is incompatible” with Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which protects freedom of expression. Likewise, Assange’s lawyers argued that under British law, extradition is barred absent adequate protections against the imposition of the death penalty.

In the meantime, His Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service has held Assange in London’s HM Prison Belmarsh since mid-April 2019 following his conviction for skipping bail on an unrelated matter involving a European arrest warrant issued by Swedish authorities.

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