Assange faces up to 175 years in jail if extradited to the US, where he founded WikiLeaks.
Assange faces up to 175 years in jail if extradited to the US. On Wednesday, a British judge granted his extradition to the US to face spying charges under the Espionage Act. Despite the UK judge’s official permission, Assange has legal channels to appeal, and the issue will now move to the UK’s interior minister for a decision.
The new order came after the UK Supreme Court rejected Assange’s permission to appeal a lower court’s decision to extradite him. The WikiLeaks founder has battled for years to avoid prosecution in the US over the publishing of a large number of sensitive papers in 2010.
While Assange’s attorneys have four weeks to appeal to UK Home Secretary Priti Patel, it is unclear if they would pursue a High Court appeal.
What accusations does Assange face in the US and why is he facing 175 years?
Assange, who founded WikiLeaks in 2006 as a forum for anonymous whistleblowers to disclose top-secret material and data, has had a turbulent decade. WikiLeaks and its creator, the now 50-year-old Assange, garnered equal parts criticism and praise when they were founded. While the platform offered groundbreaking journalism, some raised national security concerns.
What did WikiLeaks release?
WikiLeaks operated for 15 years, releasing massive amounts of documents, data, and information. 400,000 secret military reports on the Iraq war and 90,000 papers on the Afghan War are among the most influential publications.
However, in 2010, the site released the infamous ‘Collateral Murder’ footage, which showed the US Apache helicopter forces murdering a dozen civilians in Baghdad, including two foreign journalists.
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What happened to Assange after 2010?
Sweden issued an arrest warrant for rape and sexual assault in 2010. Later, the WikiLeaks founder was detained in the UK, where he was staying, pending an extradition request to Sweden. Assange evaded bail and sought sanctuary in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London two years later.
Over 7 years in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. While the Swedish authorities were investigating Assange, the US authorities investigated the publication of information connected to Iraq and Afghanistan.
Later, the US tried to extradite Assange from the UK. Among the allegations were 17 for espionage and one for computer usage with US whistleblower Chelsea Manning.
Assange’s legal fights piled up, and so did his links to Ecuador, with President Lenin Moreno accusing the embassy of “repeated infractions”. Finally, in 2019, Assange was hauled from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.
After being abandoned by Ecuador, Assange was found guilty of bail evasion in the UK. When he was brought to Belmarsh Prison, he also faced an ongoing US extradition request. In November 2019, Sweden dropped the rape lawsuit.
Why is Assange avoiding extradition to the US?
Julian Assange faces up to 175 years in jail if convicted of 18 criminal counts in the US. However, in December, the High Court overruled a magistrates court judgment stating that the WikiLeaks founder might be extradited to the US if certain conditions were met.
In the past, Assange’s counsel has stated that his arrest would establish a dangerous precedent for journalists’ rights.