Assange High Court appeal

Julian Assange continues his legal battle against the United States’ attempts to extradite him from the UK. The Australian journalist and founder of WikiLeaks faces up to 175 years in an American prison for publishing evidence of US war crimes.

Attending the hearing remotely, Richard Medhurst gives his exclusive, first-hand account from the High Court in London: The United States is appealing a British judge’s decision in January not to extradite Julian Assange, on grounds that US prison conditions would be inhuman and that Assange is at substantial risk of suicide. Appealing on five grounds, the prosecution claims that Assange is not suicidal enough, and therefore fit to be extradited.

The United States has also offered assurances that include not placing Assange in oppressive prison conditions (Special Administrative Measures, or SAMs), no imprisonment in ADX Florence, and the possibility to serve out a potential sentence in Australia. Assange’s legal team say the diplomatic assurances cannot be trusted as they only bind the prosecutors and not the US Department of Justice.

The United States has a history of breaking extradition assurances. Moreover, the United States has provided no assurances that Assange would not be placed in Administrative Segregation (Ad Seg), or a Communication Management Unit (CMU) or Special Housing Unit (SHU) which his lawyer Mark Summers described as “a prison within a prison; an experiment in social isolation." All these prison condition would be oppressive, isolating Assange and very likely driving him to take his own life. Richard Medhurst reports exclusively on the High Court hearing.


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