Julian Assange wins temporary reprieve from extradition to US

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WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s extradition to the United States from Britain was put on hold on Tuesday after London’s High Court said the United States must provide assurances he would not face the death penalty.
U.S. prosecutors are seeking to put Assange, 52, on trial on 18 counts, all bar one under the Espionage Act, over WikiLeaks’ release of confidential U.S. military records and diplomatic cables.
After Britain gave the go-ahead for his extradition last year, Assange’s lawyers in February launched a final attempt in the English courts to challenge that decision.
In their written ruling, which Assange’s wife Stella described as “utterly bizarre”, two senior judges provisionally gave him permission to launch a full appeal against extradition on three grounds, but only if the U.S. failed to provide “satisfactory assurances” to the issues raised.
These were that Australian-born Assange arguably would not be entitled to rely on the First Amendment right to free speech as a non-U.S. national and, while none of the existing charges carried the death penalty, he could later face a capital offence such as treason, meaning it would be unlawful to extradite him.
Assange’s lawyers had highlighted a comment by former U.S. President Donald Trump who said in 2010, when discussing WikiLeaks, that “I think there should be like a death penalty or something”, the ruling said.
The judges invited the U.S. authorities to provide assurances on these matters, saying if they were not forthcoming by April 16, then Assange would be granted permission to appeal.
However, they rejected his lawyers’ argument the case was politically motivated or that he would not receive a fair trial. They also said his accusation that CIA officials had planned to kidnap or murder him could not be considered should he be allowed an appeal.
A further hearing has been scheduled for May 20, with his extradition – which his campaign team said could have been imminent depending on the ruling – put on hold.
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