WikiLeaks’ founder Julian Assange leaves Westminster Magistrates Court in London, Britain.
Henry Nicholls | Reuters
Julian Assange, the 50-year-old founder of Wikileaks, is a step closer to being extradited from Britain to the United States after the U.S. government won an appeal in London’s High Court.
Judge Timothy Holroyde said Friday that the court “allows the appeal.”
In the U.S., the Australian entrepreneur will face criminal charges including breaking a spying law and conspiring to hack government computers.
Holyrode said the U.S. has assured Britain that Assange’s detention will meet certain conditions.
U.S. authorities accuse Assange of 18 counts relating to Wikileaks’ release of hoards of confidential U.S. military records and diplomatic cables, which the authorities said had put lives in danger.
The U.S. was appealing against a Jan. 4 ruling by a London District Judge that said that Assange should not be extradited because he would likely commit suicide in a U.S. prison.
Stella Moris, Julian Assange’s fiancee, said Friday: “We will appeal this decision at the earliest possible moment.”
She described the High Court’s ruling as “dangerous and misguided” and a “grave miscarriage of justice.”
“How can it be fair, how can it be right, how can it be possible, to extradite Julian to the very country which plotted to kill him?” Morris added.
Judge Vanessa Baraitser said in January that extradition would be oppressive due to Assange’s mental health.
The activist founded WikiLeaks in 2006 to publish news leaks and classified information provided by anonymous sources.
Over the years, Assange has won a smattering of journalism awards including The Economist’s New Media Award in 2008 and the Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism in 2011. Throughout the trial, Assange has maintained that he is little more than a journalist and a publisher.
Assange has spent most of the last decade in confinement. It started in 2012 when he holed himself up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London after he lost a U.K. Supreme Court appeal of his extradition to Sweden, where authorities wanted to question him about rape allegations.
While the Swedish case was subsequently dropped, Assange was evicted from the embassy in April 2019 and arrested for skipping bail in the U.K. He was sentenced to 50 weeks in prison and is still being detained.