WikiLeaks’ founder Assange's family vows to fight his extradition to US

'We’re going to use every appeal avenue', says his wife



By Reuters

Published: Fri 17 Jun 2022, 10:17 PM

The wife of Julian Assange vowed to fight using every possible legal avenue after British Home Secretary Priti Patel on Friday approved the WikiLeaks’ founder’s extradition to the United States to face criminal charges.

Assange is wanted by U.S. authorities on 18 counts, including a spying charge, relating to WikiLeaks’ release of vast troves of confidential US military records and diplomatic cables which Washington said had put lives in danger.

His supporters say he is an anti-establishment hero who has been victimised because he exposed US wrongdoing in conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, and that his prosecution is a politically motivated assault on journalism and free speech.

His wife Stella said Assange would appeal after the Home Office said his extradition had been approved as British courts had concluded it would not be unjust or an abuse of process.

“We’re going to fight this. We’re going to use every appeal avenue,” Stella Assange told reporters, calling the decision a “travesty”. “I’m going to spend every waking hour fighting for Julian until he is free, until justice is served.”

His brother, Gabriel Shipton, told Reuters the appeal would include new information not previously taken to the courts, including claims made in a report last year of plans to assassinate him.

Originally, a British judge ruled Assange, 50, should not be deported, saying his mental health meant he would be at risk of suicide if convicted and held in a maximum security prison.

But this was overturned on an appeal after the United States gave a package of assurances, including a pledge he could be transferred to Australia to serve any sentence.

The Home Office said the courts had not found that extradition would be incompatible with his human rights, including his right to a fair trial and to freedom of expression, and that he would be treated appropriately.

The Australian-born Assange has been involved in a legal fight in Britain for more than a decade and it could now go on for many more months.

He has 14 days to appeal to London’s High Court, which must give its approval for a challenge, and he could ultimately seek to take his case to the United Kingdom Supreme Court and the European Court of Human Rights.

‘CHILLING MESSAGE’

“We’re not at the end of the road here,” Stella Assange said, calling Patel’s decision “a dark day for press freedom and for British democracy”.

Nick Vamos, the former head of extradition at Britain’s Crown Prosecution Service, said verdicts were regularly overturned by the High Court. Assange would be able to claim again it was politically motivated and use new evidence, such as his allegations the CIA had plotted to assassinate him.

The CIA has declined to comment on his claims.

“I think he might get some traction,” Vamos told Reuters.

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