After losing his latest extradition appeal, Julian Assange is now one step closer to being imprisoned in America.
Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, has been fighting extradition to the United States for years. He has been living in the Ecuadorian embassy in London since 2012, seeking asylum to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he was wanted for questioning in a sexual assault case. The case was eventually dropped, but Assange remained in the embassy, fearing extradition to the US.
Assange is wanted in the US for publishing classified military and diplomatic documents on WikiLeaks. The US government has charged him with 18 counts of violating the Espionage Act and one count of conspiracy to commit computer intrusion. If convicted, he could face up to 175 years in prison.
Assange has argued that he is a journalist and that his actions are protected by the First Amendment. However, the US government has argued that Assange is not a journalist, but rather a hacker who conspired with former US Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to steal and publish classified information.
Assange’s legal battle has been long and complicated. In 2019, he was arrested by British police after Ecuador revoked his asylum status. He was sentenced to 50 weeks in prison for violating bail conditions in the UK. Since then, he has been fighting extradition to the US.
On January 4, 2021, a UK judge ruled that Assange could not be extradited to the US on mental health grounds. The judge found that Assange was at risk of suicide if he were to be extradited to the US, where he would likely be held in solitary confinement. However, the judge rejected Assange’s argument that he is a journalist and that his actions are protected by the First Amendment.
The US government appealed the decision, and on January 6, 2021, a UK court rejected Assange’s latest appeal. The court found that Assange’s mental health concerns could be addressed in the US prison system, and that he would not face inhumane treatment if he were to be extradited.
Assange’s legal team has vowed to continue fighting the extradition, and they have 14 days to appeal the latest decision. However, if they are unsuccessful, Assange could be extradited to the US within weeks.
Assange’s case has raised important questions about the role of journalists in a democracy, and about the limits of government secrecy. Some argue that Assange is a hero who exposed government wrongdoing, while others argue that he is a criminal who put lives at risk by publishing classified information.
Regardless of one’s opinion of Assange, his case is a reminder of the importance of a free press and the need for transparency in government. As the world becomes increasingly complex and interconnected, the role of journalists in holding those in power accountable becomes ever more important.