High Court to Consider Julian Assange Extradition Appeal Amidst International Scrutiny

Tuesday, February 21 marks a pivotal moment for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange as two high court judges in London convene to consider whether he can appeal a ruling for his extradition to the United States. The extradition, if approved, would likely result in Assange spending the remainder of his life in a federal prison, potentially in a harsh ‘supermax’ facility. The hearing is scheduled to extend through Wednesday.

Stella Assange, his wife, cautioned that if the judges rule against him, Assange could swiftly find himself en route to US soil. Once there, he would face trial on espionage-related charges and publishing state secrets, potentially leading to a 175-year prison sentence. “It is the final hearing,” she stated during a Thursday press briefing, “If it does not go Julian’s way, there is no possibility to appeal to the supreme court or anywhere else in this jurisdiction.” She further highlighted the gravity of the situation, expressing concerns about his declining health and warning, “If he is extradited, he will die.”

Meanwhile, The Guardian reported on efforts by US authorities to pressure journalists who collaborated with Assange to turn against him. Several prominent journalists, including James Ball, David Leigh, Heather Brooke, and Andrew O’Hagan, declined to cooperate with the FBI. O’Hagan emphasized his stance, stating, “The attempt to punish Assange for exposing the truth is an attack on journalism itself.” WikiLeaks Editor-in-chief Kristinn Hrafnsson stressed the implications of Assange’s prosecution for press freedoms, stating, “If an Australian citizen publishing in Europe can face prison time in the United States, that means no journalists anywhere are safe in the future.”

In recent developments, Australia’s parliament voted to formally request the dropping of charges against Assange, emphasizing the importance of bringing the matter to a close for Assange to return home to his family in Australia. Amnesty International also reiterated its call to drop charges against Assange, warning of the broader implications for global media freedoms if he were to be prosecuted in the US.