Julian Assange pictured leaving court in January 2020

Julian Assange has moved closer to being extradited from the UK to the US after the US government won the latest stage in its extradition bid.

The US had appealed against a January UK court ruling that the Wikileaks founder could not be extradited due to concerns over his mental health.

But judges ruled the risk of suicide was excluded by assurances from the US.

He is wanted in the US over the publication of thousands of classified documents in 2010 and 2011.

Senior judges found the lower judge had based her decision in January on the risk of Mr Assange being held in highly restrictive prison conditions if extradited.

However, the US authorities later gave assurances that he would not face those strictest measures unless he committed an act in the future that merited them.

Giving the judgement, Lord Chief Justice Lord Burnett said: “That risk is in our judgment excluded by the assurances which are offered.

“It follows that we are satisfied that, if the assurances had been before the judge, she would have answered the relevant question differently.”

It is not currently clear whether Mr Assange can further challenge his extradition, although Lord Justice Holroyde indicated in court that the Wikileaks founder was seeking to bring another appeal.

The US had offered four assurances, including that Mr Assange would not be subject to solitary confinement pre or post-trial or detained at the ADX Florence Supermax jail if extradited.

Lawyers for Washington also said the US would allow him to be transferred to Australia to serve any prison sentence he may be given closer to home.

The US authorities argued Mr Assange’s mental illness “does not even come close” to being severe enough to prevent him from being extradited.

But lawyers representing Mr Assange had argued the assurances over his future treatment were “meaningless” and “vague”.

If convicted in the US, Mr Assange faces a possible penalty of up to 175 years in jail, his lawyers have said. However the US government said the sentence was more likely to be between four and six years.

Mr Assange faces an 18-count indictment from the US government, accusing him of conspiring to hack into US military databases to acquire sensitive secret information relating to the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, which was then published on the Wikileaks website.

He says the information exposed abuses by the US military.

But US prosecutors say the leaks of classified material endangered lives, and so the US sought his extradition from the UK.

Extradition is the process under which one country can ask another to hand over a suspect to face trial.

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