Assange Wins Right To Take US Extradition Case To UK’s High Court

David G. Silvers, Cancillería del Ecuador, CC BY-SA 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

In Brief

  • The Facts:
    • Julian Assange has won the right to ask the Supreme Court to block his extradition to the US.

    • The High Court has ruled that he has an arguable point of law and he can petition the Supreme Court to hear the case.

    • The point of appeal concerns the 'assurances' given by the US about how Assange would be treated by the US justice system if he was extradited.

  • Reflect On:
    • Why do we prosecute those who expose unethical and immoral actions of governments and major corporations?

    • What does this say about humanity?

    • How can we trust governments that want to punish people who tell the truth?

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WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has won the right to to take his legal battle against extradition to the United States to Britain’s Supreme Court, the United Kingdom’s High Court has ruled. You can help support the Assange family here, as the process they are going through is extremely expensive.

This comes after the High Court reversed its decision to not allow him to be extradited to the United States.

Lord Burnett, the Lord Chief Justice, said Mr. Assange’s case had raised a legal question over the circumstances in which judges received and considered assurances from the US about how he would be treated in prison. After all, it’s the same country that wanted to kill him. This has been an ongoing issue during the trial, but he hasn’t fared the best in Belmarsh Prison either.

There have been reports about Assange being tortured there in various ways, which include the use of psychotropic drugs. He also recently suffered a stroke in prison.

But Assange has no guarantee of a hearing despite being able to petition the Supreme Court. While the court in London gave Assange permission to appeal, the Supreme Court must agree to accept the case before it can move forward.

Though Judges refused him permission for a direct appeal to the Supreme Court on their decision, the fact that he can ask the UK’s top court to rule on is a huge success in what has already been a long battle.

Stella Morris, parter of Julian Assange stated the following after the decision,

“Thanks everyone for coming today. What happened in court today is precisely what we wanted to happen. The High Court certified that we had raised a point of law of general public importance and that the Supreme Court has good grounds to hear this appeal. The situation now is that the Supreme Court has to decide whether it will hear the appeal but make no mistake we won today in court.

But let’s not forget that every time we win, as long as this case isn’t dropped, as long as Julian isn’t freed, Julian continues to suffer. For almost three years he has been in Belmarsh prison and he is suffering profoundly, day after day, week after week, year after year. Julian has to be freed and we hope that this will soon end.

But we are far from achieving justice in this case because Julian has been incarcerated for so long and he should not have spent a single day in prison. If there had been justice the officials who plotted, who conspired to murder Julian, would be in the courtroom right now. If there were justice, the crimes that Julian exposed, war crimes, the killing of innocent civilians, would not be ignored.

Our fight goes on and we will fight this until Julian is free. Thank you.”

The war on information is already quite strong as it is, with COVID being a great example. Scientists, doctors, academics and journalists who present opinion, information and even strong evidence that calls into question and/or opposes government rhetoric are subjected to extreme censorship and ridicule. But how far will the war on information go?

Assange was charged under the Espionage Act and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, largely for actions rightfully recognized as protected news-gathering practices. He made public previously classified documents exposing various immoral and unethical actions taken by the US government and major corporations, like war crimes for example.

Assange’s partner Stella Morris explains,

If Julian is extradited he will be put on trial in Alexandria, Virginia, where he stands no chance of a fair trial. It is where US intelligence agencies are headquartered. The court complex is 15 miles from CIA headquarters. The state is populated by employees of the very sector whose abuses and crimes Julian exposed. The Espionage Act prevents Julian from arguing why he published what he published, what he exposed, and the fact it didn’t result in any physical harm.

The Espionage Act was originally intended for use against spies. But it’s been used against journalists and whistleblowers in recent decades. These new charges against Assange threaten to criminalize reporting in the United States and around the world.

A favourite quote of mine when referring to what’s happening with Assange comes from Nils Melzer, Human Rights Chair of the Geneva Academy of Int Humanitarian Law and has served as UN Rapporteur on Torture and Other Inhumane or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

How far have we sunk if telling the truth becomes a crime? How far have we sunk if we prosecute people that expose war crimes for exposing war crimes? How far have we sunk when we no longer prosecute our own war criminals? Because we identify more with them, than we identify with the people that actually expose these crimes. What does that tell about us and about our governments? In a democracy, the power does not belong to the government, but to the people. But the people have to claim it. Secrecy disempowers the people because it prevents them from exercising democratic control, which is precisely why governments want secrecy.

The charges laid against Assange have been met with international condemnation from various civil liberties, human rights, and journalistic communities. More than two dozen organizations that include Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the Committee to Protect Journalists and more have repeatedly urged the US Department of Justice to drop its prosecution of Assange.

For the first time in the history of our country, the government has brought criminal charges against a publisher for the publication of truthful information…It establishes a dangerous precedent that can be used to target all news organizations that hold the government accountable by publishing its secrets. And it’s equally dangerous for U.S. journalists who uncover the secrets of other nations.

Ben Wizner, Director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project, American Civil Liberties Union:

Proponents of Assange’s extradition would argue that he threatened national security. I would argue, as would many others, that national security has become an umbrella tool to censor information that exposes unethical and immoral actions of corporations and governments.

We’ve seen this more within the past few years. For example, Daniel Hale, a former U.S. intelligence analyst was arrested and sentenced to 45 months in prison for violating the Espionage Act. Hale leaked documents about the secretive U.S. drone program, showing 90% of people killed in Afghanistan were innocent bystanders.

What does this say about the government’s intentions to silence those who expose truth? Truth that threatens the power & control governments and corporations continue to grow day by day.

The most treacherous acts are always done in the name of the most noble cause. What we see today is the justification of immoral and unethical actions that are deemed by government to be justified for the good of the world. This requires massive propaganda campaigns to convince a large portion of the citizenry to obey, and stigmatize those who don’t.

The loss of freedom of speech and censorship continues to grow at an unprecedented level. A this rate, anybody who disobeys government mandates, orders or even questions it may, in the future, be deemed a terrorist and/or a threat. But we can change this. You can help out Julian and his team here.

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