Wikileaks founder Assange in court again | free press


London (AP) – The legal dispute between imprisoned Wikileaks founder Julian Assange and the US is entering a new round today.

A new hearing begins in a London court over the United States’ objection to an earlier verdict. Supporters are calling for the immediate release of the 50-year-old Australian who has been detained in the UK for more than two years. Assange is expected in person for the appointment.

The American judiciary has accused the Australian of stealing and publishing classified material from US military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, along with whistleblower Chelsea Manning. He endangered the lives of American informants. However, his supporters see him as an investigative journalist who exposed war crimes. If convicted in the US, he faces up to 175 years in prison.

Extradition request rejected

The Old Bailey Criminal Court in London rejected a US extradition request in January due to Assange’s poor mental health and expected prison conditions in the United States. Assange was not released as the US appealed. That was allowed, but not all the reasons put forward by the Americans were accepted.

The US is now trying to be right on the remaining points. In concrete terms, it concerns the assessment of the responsible judge that Assange is mentally and physically bad. Observers regard the decision on these questions as indicative of the further course of the procedure.

Supporters demand release

Assange supporters call on US President Joe Biden’s administration to close the case against Wikileaks founder. “It is absolutely clear that the US government must drop the allegations. The Biden government cannot defend press freedom while continuing this case,” Assange’s partner Stella Moris of Britain’s PA news agency said.

The director of the journalists’ organization Reporters Without Borders, Christian Mihr, told the German news agency: “Ultimately, this also determines the credibility of the US.” Finally, they announced that they would return to the world stage. Observers assume that the procedure could drag on differently for new cases and thus possibly months or even years.

Reporters Without Borders and Assange’s support network are calling for the 50-year-old’s immediate release. The London Supreme Court rejected such a request in January. “From our point of view, there is no reason to lock him up,” said Mihr. Assange had previously lived in the Ecuadorian embassy in London for years. However, in 2019, the South American country withdrew its protection and left him to the British authorities. In the meantime, he has also lost his Ecuadorian citizenship.