LONDON: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange will find out Monday whether he can be extradited from the UK to the US to face espionage charges over the publication of secret American military documents.
District Judge Vanessa Baraitser is due to deliver her decision at London’s Old Bailey courthouse at 10 am Monday. If she grants the request, then Britain’s home secretary, Priti Patel, would make the final decision.
Whichever side loses is expected to appeal, which could lead to years more legal wrangling.However, there’s a possibility that outside forces may come into play that could instantly end the decade-long saga.
Stella Moris, Assange’s partner and the mother of his two sons, has appealed to US President Donald Trump via Twitter to grant a pardon to Assange before he leaves office on Jan 20.And even if Trump doesn’t, there’s speculation that his successor, Joe Biden, may take a more lenient approach to Assange’s extradition process.
US prosecutors indicted the 49-year-old Assange on 17 espionage charges and one charge of computer misuse that carry a maximum sentence of 175 years in prison.
Lawyers acting on behalf of the US government said in their closing arguments after the four-week hearing in the fall that Assange’s defense team had raised issues that were neither relevant nor admissible.
“Consistently, the defense asks this court to make findings, or act upon the submission, that the United States of America is guilty of torture, war crimes, murder, breaches of diplomatic and international law and that the United States of America is ‘a lawless state’,” they said. “These submissions are not only non-justiciable in these proceedings but should never have been made.”
Assange’s defense team argued that he is entitled to First Amendment protections for the publication of leaked documents that exposed US military wrongdoing in Iraq and Afghanistan and that the US extradition request was politically motivated.
Source: The News