In February, Julian Assange makes a final attempt to avoid extradition to the United States. His lawyer warns that Assange’s mental state is so bad that extradition could put his life in immediate danger.
Assange has been held in a British prison since 2019, where the US has made several attempts to extradite him, which it managed to get through the Supreme Court. Last summer, however, Assange lost his appeal against a judge’s decision to extradite him, and this February he will appeal again, but this is likely to be the last time he will have that chance.
– We have our final appeal against his extradition coming up in February and if we fail, if we are not given permission to appeal, that is the end of the road in the UK and he will be extradited, says his lawyer, Jennifer Robinson.
Robinson warns that the Wikileaks founder’s life is at great risk if he is extradited to the US, as he is in very poor mental health after all that has happened.
– Because of the treatment he has suffered, he suffers a major depressive illness, he has been diagnosed as being on the spectrum, and the medical evidence is if he was extradited to the United States those conditions would cause him to commit suicide. So his life is at risk and I am not exaggerating that.
The US stands firm
Australian MPs renewed calls for Assange to return to Australia last year, with more than 60 politicians in the country signing a letter threatening that there would be a “sustained outcry in Australia” if he was extradited to the US.
However, as recently as August, US secretary of state Antony Blinken made it clear that extradition requests against the journalist would not be dropped because he was “charged with a very serious offense”.
If Assange’s appeal is unsuccessful, Robinson hopes to take the case to the European Court of Human Rights.
– We are hoping that the European Court of Human Rights will step in. We will make an application to the European court to try to stop (his extradition) but that’s not guaranteed, she said.
Julian Assange is an Australian journalist and the founder of Wikileaks. In 2010, he published a series of classified documents that revealed, among other things, war crimes against civilians committed by the United States during the invasion and occupation of Iraq.
Following unsubstantiated allegations of sexual abuse, Assange was sought for extradition by Sweden that same year in 2010, which would likely have seen him extradited to the U.S., where he faces the death penalty or life imprisonment. Assange managed to avoid extradition by gaining asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where he stayed for seven years until his asylum was revoked in 2019. The journalist was then arrested by British authorities, and in June 2022, the British government ordered his extradition to the United States. Since then, he has been held in a British prison while his appeal is pending.