His lawyers Julian Assange insisted today that the founder of WikiLeaks could end his life if British justice decides to extradite him to the US.
The judges of the High Court of London are called to decide whether to ratify or annul the decision by which the extradition of the 50-year-old Australian was rejected. Assange faces up to 175 years in prison in the United States for leaking thousands of classified documents.
Whatever the decision, it is considered unlikely that the epilogue of this long-running legal dispute will be written. If the United States is vindicated, the previous ruling, which was made in January, will be overturned and British justice will be called upon to reconsider the matter. And whoever the loser is, he has the opportunity to appeal to the Supreme Court of Britain.
Earlier, Assange’s lawyers stressed that their client could commit suicide if extradited to the United States. This risk was invoked in January by Judge Vanessa Baraicher to reject his extradition request.. He had even pointed out at the time that the United States had failed to prevent the suicide of stockbroker Jeffrey Epstein, who had been remanded in custody on charges of trafficking in minors.
Assange declined to attend today’s hearing. He had appeared in court yesterday via video conference from the Belmars High Security Prison where he has been held for two and a half years.
Assange was arrested by British police in April 2019 after staying for seven years inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where he had taken refuge after being released on parole. He said he feared the British would extradite him to the United States or Sweden, where he had been accused of rape, but the case has now been dropped.
He is being prosecuted in the United States for publishing more than 700,000 secret military and diplomatic documents related to US policy, mainly in Iraq and Afghanistan, since 2010.