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UK Unwilling to Extradite Assange to US While Risk of Death Penalty Remains - Tory Peer

© Photo : Mohamed ElmaaziVan with banner on it saying Don't Extradite Assange - Journalism is Not a Crime passes by Old Bailey on 28 September 2020
Van with banner on it saying Don't Extradite Assange - Journalism is Not a Crime passes by Old Bailey on 28 September 2020 - Sputnik International, 1920, 28.03.2024
MOSCOW (Sputnik) - The government of the United Kingdom will not want to extradite WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to the United States as long as he could still face the death penalty there, Lord Richard Balfe, a Conservative member of the UK Parliament's House of Lords, told Sputnik.
On Tuesday, the High Court of Justice in London ruled that Assange has a real prospect of success on three of the nine grounds of appeal. The court asked the US government to provide assurances that the WikiLeaks founder would be able to claim the First Amendment of the US Constitution, which guarantees freedoms related to religion, expression, assembly, and the right to petition. The court also asked to ensure that Assange would not be prejudiced at his trial due to his nationality, and that he would not face the death penalty. The next hearing is scheduled for May 20 if the parties submit the necessary documents.
"I am sure that the lawyers of Julian Assange will pursue appeals for as long as they can. It is my belief that the UK Government will be unwilling to extradite without a clear undertaking that the death penalty will not be imposed," Balfe said.
When asked about the High Court's decision, Balfe stated that the UK-US extradition treaty signed by the Blair government has a reputation of being flawed and placing uneven responsibilities on the UK as opposed to the US.
"The job of the High Court is to interpret the existing law, not to invent new laws. As such their judgment is about the law as it stands not as some might like it to be," Balfe said.
The lawmaker stated that he in no way supports the past actions of Assange, stressing the importance of passage of confidential information between governments for conducting international diplomacy and that "sometimes difficult decisions need to be taken and examples need to be made."
A supporter of Julian Assange attend the extradition hearing at Westminster Magistrates Court in London - Sputnik International, 1920, 27.03.2024
Is Biden Administration ‘Slow Rolling’ Assange Case to Keep Journalist in Limbo?
Assange, an Australian citizen, was transferred to London's high-security Belmarsh prison in April 2019 on bail breach charges. In the US, he faces prosecution under the Espionage Act for obtaining and disclosing classified information that shed light on war crimes and human rights violations committed by US troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. If convicted, the WikiLeaks founder could face up to 175 years in prison. One of the last means of preventing his transfer to the US may be an appeal to the European Court of Human Rights. Assange lost his previous appeal at the UK High Court last June.
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