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High Court rejects Julian Assange's appeal against extradition

CAMPAIGNERS blasted a High Court decision to reject Julian Assange's appeal against US extradition today as a "blatant politically saturated injustice.”

The Wikileaks founder's legal team is to mount a final attempt in British courts to stop the 51-year-old Australian facing a “political prosecution” and up to 175 years in jail.

His wife Stella confirmed today that Mr Justice Swift had rejected all eight grounds of his appeal against extradition, which was ordered by Priti Patel as home secretary last year.

She said he will make a renewed application for appeal at the High Court next Tuesday, which will proceed to a public hearing before two new High Court judges.

“We remain optimistic that we will prevail and that Julian will not be extradited to the United States, where he faces charges that could result in him spending the rest of his life in a maximum security prison for publishing true information that revealed war crimes committed by the US government,” she said.

His father John Shipton added: “The grounds for a hearing are clear, firm and just. Julian’s family watch on horrified and all fair-minded people the world over watch with profound disquiet and alarm.”

Veteran journalist and campaigner John Pilger said: “I have never known such a blatant politically saturated injustice.”

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said it was “deeply concerned by the UK High Court’s decision” which has brought Mr Assange “dangerously close” to being extradited. 

RSF director of campaigns Rebecca Vincent said: “It is absurd that a single judge can issue a three-page decision that could land Julian Assange in prison for the rest of his life and permanently impact the climate for journalism around the world.”

She said RSF is now preparing to mount a judicial review against Belmarsh prison after she and the organisation’s secretary-general were barred from visiting him in April.

“We are willing to escalate this as is needed, especially as the possibility of his extradition is coming closer. If he is extradited it would be highly difficult if not impossible for people to see him.”

Mr Assange has suffered from deteriorating physical and mental health while being held in the maximum security prison in east London following his removal from the Ecuadorian embassy, where he had stayed for seven years, in 2019.

He faces 18 US charges over WikiLeaks’ publication of hundreds of thousands of classified documents leaked by former US Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning.

Amnesty International legal adviser Simon Crowther told the Morning Star: “The reality of the case is that Julian Assange is being prosecuted for doing something that journalists do all the time.”
He said the latest High Court decision “makes us really concerned because the legal avenues are getting smaller and smaller as time goes by.”

On High Court judges who are due to decide next week on whether to allow Mr Assange a final appeal, he added: “We very much hope that they will hear that appeal because that’s the appeal on the really crucial issue of freedom of expression.

“The next week is a really important moment to this case; if Julian Assange loses those arguments we hope of course still to bring the case to the European Court of Human Rights.

“It’s disappointing that the UK government is continuing to pursue this case on behalf of the US.”

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