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'Rot in Jail': Assange Granted Appeal Hearing While US Drags Its Feet

© AP Photo / Frank AugsteinJulian Assange supporters protest in front of the High Court in London, Friday, Dec. 10, 2021. A British appellate court has opened the door for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to be extradited to the United States
Julian Assange supporters protest in front of the High Court in London, Friday, Dec. 10, 2021. A British appellate court has opened the door for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to be extradited to the United States - Sputnik International, 1920, 21.05.2024
In May 2019, the US government indicted Assange on 18 charges over WikiLeaks' publication of classified documents. Prosecutors claimed he “conspired” with US army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to “hack” into a Pentagon computer.
After deferring a decision in March on whether Assange could bring his case to another appeal hearing, on Monday he was granted permission by two judges to challenge his extradition to the US on espionage charges. The WikiLeaks founder has been fighting various legal challenges for more than a decade, and currently faces 17 Espionage Act charges and a charge of conspiracy to commit computer intrusion.
On Monday, Canadian activist Yves Engler joined Sputnik’s Political Misfits to discuss prolonged legal troubles.
Sputnik’s Michelle Witte opened the interview by noting that in March, the UK had required the US government to provide assurances to London that if Assange - who is Australian - was extradited, he would not face the death penalty and would be allowed a full defense. She adds that while Assange will not be taken to a supermax prison, he will have to remain in Belmarsh Prison - which is located in southeast London - while the Biden administration drags their feet on the issue.
“There is a faction that wants to make an example to punish Julian Assange. ‘You’re not going to reveal the secrets of the empire and think that you can, and we're gonna do what we can to make that hurt’ - that's one element,” Engler told Political Misfits. “And the other element is that this is astoundingly embarrassing for a self-described liberal, democratic government to be doing this.”
“[Letting] him rot in a British jail. This has dragged on for years and years and years and, you still see a situation where Julian Assange is not even necessarily mentioned when the Canadian government and other governments talk about political prisoners and freedom of the press. But, this is the message from the US empire. You don't reveal our secrets. If we can get you, we'll try to get you,” he added.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange gestures from the window of a prison van as he is driven out of Southwark Crown Court in London on May 1, 2019, after having been sentenced to 50 weeks in prison for breaching his bail conditions in 2012.  - Sputnik International, 1920, 10.04.2024
Biden Says Considering Australia's Request to End Julian Assange Prosecution
Witte noted that the US has not made any promises that Assange will be permitted a First Amendment defense. The decision by High Court judges Victoria Sharp and Jeremy Johnson came on Monday after Assange’s lawyers argued that the US did not provide adequate assurances that he would have the same free speech protections as an American citizen were he to be extradited from Britain.
“The UK government had all kinds of moments where they should have dropped this and let him go and in fact given him an award, celebrated Julian for his contribution to humanity, and for revealing dangerous truths that the public deserves to know,” said Engler. “But the UK government is going along with the charade for its own reasons as well. And I don't know what the final result will be before, but, let's hope that Washington just ultimately drops it.”
“It seems like the tactic of the Biden administration and maybe any Democratic administration is just to drag this out procedurally until Julian Assange dies in prison,” Witte added, before asking Engler how a potential presidency under former President Donald Trump could affect Assange.
“Like I said, the Canadian government, which goes on about these press awards, has a whole agreement with this initiative with the UK government about freedom of the press around the world, and they have events not far from the Belmarsh prison and they never mention the fact that Assange is rotting away. And, as you pointed out, he didn't even show up at the court because he is in such ill health,” he added.
“It's unlikely that Trump would pardon [Assange] because Trump seems to - whoever replaces [former CIA director and US secretary of state Mike] Pompeo for him if he wins is going to have the same kind of nasty, nasty attitude,” said Engler.
It was reported in 2017 that WikiLeaks’ Twitter account was communicating with Donald Trump Jr. - the former president’s son - during which WikiLeaks urged the Trump campaign to reject the 2016 presidential election results if Trump were to lose. The following year, the Democratic National Committee filed a multimillion-dollar lawsuit in Manhattan against Russia, the Trump campaign, WikiLeaks and Julian Assange on alleged conspiracy theories.
Demonstrators hold placards after Stella Assange, wife of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, released a statement outside the Royal Courts of Justice, in London, Tuesday, March 26, 2024 - Sputnik International, 1920, 18.04.2024
Biden Administration 'Lacks Moral Character' Regarding Assange's Extradition
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