Court rejects Assange’s application to appeal extradition
JULIAN ASSANGE'S application for an appeal against his extradition to the US was rejected in a decision handed down in mid-March. "The application has been refused by the Supreme Court and the reason given is that application did not raise an arguable point of law," according to a Supreme Court spokesperson.
The case now moves to UK Home Secretary Priti Patel, who has authority to authorise the extradition. If she does so, Assange's legal team has the right to apply for a Judicial Review of that decision. If a Judicial Review is granted, it will be the last opportunity to prevent him from being extradited to the US.
At Assange's original appeal against extradition in January 2021, the court ruled in his favour and against extradition, due to the high suicide risk if he were deported to face a life-long sentence in a "supermax" maximum security prison.
If convicted after trial in the US, Assange faces 175 years in prison under 18 counts of the US's Espionage Act, for his part in revealing classified documents including the Pentagon Logs - evidence of war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Espionage Act has no public interest defence for journalists. His legal team's latest unsuccessful application for an appeal was based on the fact that assurances by US Government lawyers that he would not be held in a supermax prison were introduced at a hearing subsequent to his original appeal against extradition.
The NUJ's General Secretary Michelle Stanistreet said in a statement: "the legal shortcomings in the case to extradite Julian Assange are clear, as are the risks to free speech from this attempted prosecution... The Home Secretary should call a halt to this extradition and affirm the government's support for a free media."
Assange remains in Belmarsh maximum security prison. The UN Commission on Human Rights Special Rapporteur for Torture Nils Melzer has stated that there is no valid reason to continue to keep him under a maximum security regime. His forthcoming wedding to Stella Morris - a lawyer on his legal team - was recently announced on Twitter for 23 March.