UK High Court’s decision to allow Assange’s extradition to the US branded ‘a grave miscarriage of justice’

Morning Star | November 11, 2021

Stella Morris (centre) speaks to the media outside the Royal Courts of Justice in London, after the US Government won its High Court bid to overturn a judge’s decision not to extradite her partner and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange

WIKILEAKS founder Julian Assange’s extradition to the US should be allowed, the High Court ruled today in what has been branded “a grave miscarriage of justice.”

Lord Justice Holroyde, sitting at the central London court, said he was satisfied by assurances given by the US government that if Mr Assange is convicted, he would be allowed to serve his sentence in Australia and receive appropriate medical and psychological care while awaiting trial.

Mr Assange, 50, is wanted in the US over an alleged conspiracy to obtain and disclose national defence information following WikiLeaks’ publication of hundreds of thousands of leaked documents relating to the Afghanistan and Iraq wars.

The ruling is a stark reverse of that handed down by then district judge Vanessa Baraitser in January, which found that Mr Assange’s extradition would be “oppressive” given his history of mental health issues.

But Lord Holroyde directed that the case should be returned to Westminster magistrates’ court, then pass to the secretary of state to order the extradition.

He described the assurances from the US as “solemn undertakings made by one government to another.”

Speaking outside the court, Mr Assange’s fiancee Stella Moris, shaking with rage and choking back tears, said the decision would be appealed in the Supreme Court at the earliest possible moment.

She dismissed the judge’s faith in US undertakings as “dangerous and misguided” and a “grave miscarriage of justice.”

“The assurances in which the court has placed its trust are inherently unenforceable,” she said.

“Julian is the most important journalist of the past 50 years and this court wants to hand him over to the CIA, who we know plotted to kill him.

“He represents press freedom — we must keep up the fight to free him.”

National Union of Journalists general secretary Michelle Stanistreet also condemned the ruling.

“For Julian Assange to be extradited to answer charges for cultivating a source and encouraging the revelation of criminality would be a hammer-blow to free expression,” she warned.

“Any journalist who thought they might upset a US administration will reasonably fear that they too could be targeted by a judicial snatch squad.

“When the freedom of our judiciary is under threat, it is disappointing that senior judges should buckle in the face of such unconvincing US blandishments.”

John Rees, of the Don’t Extradite Assange Campaign, told the Morning Star that the battle to protect Mr Assange from extradition will continue.

“I think it’s disappointing and surprising that the judges should have accepted the assurances of the US, when in court they heard the facts that the CIA were attempting to plot a kidnap or assassination of Julian Assange,” he said.

“It seems unreasonable that you should accept assurances from them. But they did, and it means it will be appealed in the Supreme Court.

“These are very determined people — we are not going to let this stand. There’s a lot of legal road to run and the fight goes on.”

Amnesty International said the so-called assurances upon which the US government relies “leave Mr Assange at risk of ill-treatment,” are “inherently unreliable” and “should be rejected.”

The human rights group concluded that the charges against Mr Assange are “politically motivated” and must be dropped.

Advocacy groups said the decision to allow the extradition represents a complete capitulation of the British legal system to US demands.

Cage UK said that Mr Assange is a political prisoner of the “war on terror” and as such must be protected from the US witch hunt against him.

The campaign group’s managing director Muhammad Rabbani said: “Assange’s crime is having the courage to hold the US to account.

“Should the Home Secretary now allow his extradition, it will forever be an indictment of the government’s betrayal of free speech, true journalistic investigation and accountability.

“The extradition is a political witch hunt against Assange for his attempts to check and expose the abuses of the US war on terror.”

He pointed to a recent speech by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in defence of political prisoners and said the US must demonstrate that this commitment is genuine by dropping its case against Mr Assange.

“We join the thousands of supporters of Julian Assange in condemning this judgement and demanding he is set free immediately,” Mr Rabbani said.

SOURCE: https://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/article/b/high-courts-decision-to-allow-assange-extradition-to-the-us-branded-a-grave-miscarriage-of-justice

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