WikiLeaks founder Assange vows to crack down on Britain’s extradition to the USA

  • The British Patel agrees to the extradition request
  • Assange has 14 days to appeal
  • Assange’s wife says dark day for press freedom
  • Australia says the case has dragged on for too long

LONDON, June 17 (Reuters) – The wife of Julian Assange has vowed to fight in any legal way possible after Britain’s Home Secretary Priti Patel on Friday authorized the extradition of the WikiLeaks founder to the United States to face criminal charges to deliver.

Assange is wanted by US authorities on 18 counts, including an espionage allegation related to WikiLeaks’ release of a vast trove of confidential US military records and diplomatic cables that Washington said had put lives in danger.

His supporters say he is an anti-establishment hero, victimized for exposing US wrongdoing in conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, and that his charges are a politically motivated attack on journalism and freedom of expression.

Sign up now for FREE unlimited access to

to register

His wife Stella said Assange would appeal after the Home Office said his extradition had been granted because UK courts had concluded it was neither unfair nor an abuse of procedure.

“We will fight against it. We will use every legal avenue,” Stella Assange told reporters, calling the decision a “travesty”. “I will spend every waking hour fighting for Julian until he is free, until justice is done.”

Originally, a British judge ruled that Assange, 50, should not be deported because his mental health put him at risk of suicide if convicted and held in a maximum security prison.

However, this was overturned on appeal after the United States issued a package of assurances, including a pledge that he could be extradited to Australia to serve any sentence.

The Home Office said the courts had failed to find that the extradition was inconsistent with his human rights, including his right to a fair trial and freedom of expression, and that he was being treated fairly.

Australian-born Assange has been embroiled in a legal battle in the UK for more than a decade that could now drag on for many months to come.

He has 14 days to appeal to London’s High Court, which must agree to a challenge, and he could eventually seek to take his case to the UK’s Supreme Court and the European Court of Human Rights.


“We’re not at the end of the road here,” Stella Assange said, calling Patel’s decision “a dark day for press freedom and British democracy.”

Nick Vamos, the UK’s former extradition chief, said judgments were regularly overturned by the High Court. Assange could again claim it was politically motivated, using new evidence, such as his claims that the CIA planned an assassination attempt on him.

The CIA declined to comment on his claims.

“I think he could get some traction,” Vamos told Reuters.

WikiLeaks first came to prominence when it released US military video in 2010 showing an Apache helicopter attack in Baghdad in 2007 that killed a dozen people, including two Reuters news staffers.

It then released hundreds of thousands of classified documents and diplomatic cables in what was the largest security breach of its kind in US military history.

US prosecutors and Western security officials view Assange as a ruthless enemy of the state whose actions endangered the lives of the agents named in the leaked footage.

He and his supporters argue he will be punished for embarrassing those in power and face 175 years in prison if found guilty, although US attorneys have said it’s closer to four to six years would be.

“Extraditing Julian Assange to the US would put him at great risk and send a chilling message to journalists around the world,” said Agnes Callamard, Secretary-General of Amnesty International.

The Australian government said it will continue to tell London and Washington that the case “has dragged on too long and should be closed”.

The legal saga began in late 2010 when Sweden requested Assange’s extradition from the UK on sex crimes allegations. Losing that case in 2012, he fled to the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where he spent seven years.

When he was finally pulled out in April 2019, he was jailed for breaching UK bail conditions, despite Swedish proceedings against him having been dropped. He has been fighting extradition to the United States since June 2019 and remains in prison.

While at the Ecuadorian embassy, ​​he fathered two children with his now wife, whom he married in March at Belmarsh maximum security prison in London, in a ceremony attended by only four guests, two official witnesses and two guards. Continue reading

Sign up now for FREE unlimited access to

to register

Additional reporting by Kirtsy Needham in Sydney; Edited by Kate Holton and Alison Williams

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Comments are closed.