UK Court to Take Time to Decide on Assange Extradition Appeal

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Julian Assange
Julian Assange

The UK judge presiding an appeal hearing filed by the United States on a previous ruling against the extradition of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said on Thursday that the High Court will take some time to consider its decision.

“You’ve given us much to think about and we will take our time to consider our decision,” judge Duncan Burnett said before adjourning the two-day hearing.

The second and final day of hearing was used by Assange’s defense lawyers to present their arguments against the new assurances given by the US prosecutors that the whistleblower would not be locked in a maximum-security prison or put in solitary confinement if extradited, put on trial and eventually convicted in the United States.

“Even if assurances were offered and actually did rule out isolation and oppression, there are genuine questions to be resolved about their trustworthiness,” attorney Mark Summers said.

Earlier, his colleague in the defense team, Edward Fitzgerald, had said that the suicide risk, which was the main reason given by UK district judge Vanessa Baraitser to refuse to permit Assange extradition, still persists.

The defense also raised before the court a recent Yahoo News, which citing unnamed sources claimed that that CIA had plotted to kidnap and eventually kill the WikiLeaks founder during the period he was holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London.

They also mentioned that former CIA director Mike Pompeo had designated WikiLeaks as a ‘non-state hostile intelligence agency’ and noted that the news report had prompted an investigation by the US Congressional Intelligence Committee.

Assange is wanted by the United States on espionage charges after WikiLeaks published thousands of classified documents that shed light on war crimes committed by American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. If put on trial and convicted in the US, the whistleblower faces up to 175 years in prison.

According to WikiLeaks editor Kristinn Hrafnsson, the UK High Court judges may take up to six weeks to issue their verdict, which is highly likely to be appealed to the Supreme Court by the losing side.

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