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Julian Assange has been given permission to appeal his extradition to the United States to the UK Supreme Court.
The British High Court of Justice said Assange, 50, had the right to appeal his extradition to face espionage charges, however it denied him a direct appeal, meaning the decision will remain up to the Supreme Court whether they choose to hear his case.
He will remain in Belmarsh Prison, where the Wikileaks founder has been since his 2019 arrest on breaching bail conditions after leaving the Ecuadorian embassy, where he had been living since 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden on since-dropped rape charges.
The decision comes after the United States won a challenge to a previous decision preventing them from extraditing him on mental health grounds, after officials offered assurances that he would not be held under the most ‘restrictive’ conditions.
Assange’s legal team had argued there was a ‘real and oppressive’ suicide risk were he to be taken into US custody. US attorneys said the mental health risk ‘does not even come close’ to preventing him from extradition.
Lawyers for Assange said the court’s decision was overly reliant on the diplomatic assurances offered by the US, which they criticised as ‘meaningless’ and ‘vague’. Failure to secure an appeal would leave the final decision on his extradition in the hands of Home Secretary Priti Patel.
The United States accuses Assange of helping Chelsea Manning to steal and publish classified diplomatic cables and military files, which they say put the country’s national security at risk. Assange’s supporters say his actions were protected under First Amendment right to freedom of the press.
Last month Assange’s fiancée, Stella Moris, claimed he had suffered a ‘mini-stroke’ while in prison due to the stress resulting from the ‘constant chess game’ over his future.
‘Look at animals trapped in cages in a zoo. It cuts their life short. That’s what’s happening to Julian. The never-ending court cases are extremely stressful mentally,’ she said of his experience.
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