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London court to rule on Assange extradition to US

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Google Oneindia News

London, Dec 10: The next chapter in WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange's long-running possible extradition to the United States will open Friday. Judges on the High Court in London will rule on a US government appeal against a lower court's decision to block the extradition.

London court to rule on Assange extradition to US

Assange has been in custody since April 2019, when he was sentenced to 50 weeks behind bars. He had been hauled out of the Ecuadorian Embassy by British authorities after his citizenship was revoked.

The judges' decision on Friday is unlikely to be the end of the case. If the US wins, the matter will be sent back to the lower court to be heard again. The losing side in the decision will also be able to request permission for a final ruling from the UK's Supreme Court.

Why is the US seeking extradition?

The Australian is wanted on 18 charges in the United States and faces a maximum 175-year sentence if convicted.

The charges are related to the 2010 release by WikiLeaks of 500,000 secret files detailing aspects of military campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The US government also alleges that he helped intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning steal the 2010 documents before exposing confidential sources around the world.

Manning was pardoned by former President Barack Obama at the end of his second four-year term. But she remained in jail from May 2019 until December 2020 for refusing to testify before a grand jury investigating WikiLeaks.

Assange and his lawyers have long argued that the protracted case against him is politically motivated.

His supporters also see him as a journalist who shone the light on possible war crimes.

A life in custody

Before Assange was sentenced in the UK, he spent seven years at Ecuador's Embassy in London to avoid facing sexual assault allegations in Sweden that were later dropped.

While living in the embassy, Assange fathered two children with a member of his legal team, Stella Moris.

In November he was granted permission to marry Moris in Belmarsh prison.

July saw Assange spend his 50th birthday behind bars, and it was then that he found out that US authorities were continuing to pursue extradition.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said as an Australian citizen Assange was "free to return home" once the legal cases against him have been concluded.

US authorities said if Britain agrees to extradite Assange, he could serve any potential prison sentence in Australia.

Source: DW

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