Assange's Lawyer Says Not Worth Trusting US' Guarantees for Extradition
LONDON (Sputnik) - It is not worth trusting the guarantees given by the United States for the extradition of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange as Washington has repeatedly violated such obligations, Assange's lawyer Baltasar Garzon told Sputnik.
"The United States has systematically violated guarantees provided in other extradition processes with European countries. In fact, it is a common practice to give guarantees for extradition and then not take them into account ... So, these international obligations, which the United States wants to sign, should not be accepted by a UK court", Garzon said.
He further said that he hoped that the High Court in London would ratify the decision of the first instance court to deny extradition and "put an end to this case, which should never have happened in the first place." According to the lawyer, it is vital since Assange's case is not only about him personally or the WikiLeaks, but affects the basic principle of the freedom of press.
© AP Photo / Alberto PezzaliWikileaks founder Julian Assange leaves in a prison van after appearing at Westminster Magistrates Court, for an administrative hearing in London, Monday, Jan. 13, 2020
Wikileaks founder Julian Assange leaves in a prison van after appearing at Westminster Magistrates Court, for an administrative hearing in London, Monday, Jan. 13, 2020
© AP Photo / Alberto Pezzali
The US has long sought the extradition of the whistleblower, who was accused of espionage and computer fraud after WikiLeaks published thousands of classified US military records and diplomatic cables.
In January, a UK district court ruled not to extradite Assange, citing health reasons and the risk of suicide in the US prison system, but decided that he must wait in prison for the outcome of the appeal process, which, according to his defense, might take years. However, in early July the US received limited permission from to appeal the decision.
The hearing is expected to start in November.
The US has reportedly assured Assange that he can serve any jail time in his native Australia should he be tried and convicted.
The WikiLeaks founder was arrested in London on 11 April 2019, and sentenced to fifty weeks in prison for breaking his bail in 2012, when he took refuge inside the Ecuadorean embassy to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he was facing sexual assault charges which were later dropped. Assange has been held in a top security prison in Belmarsh since 2019, pending an appeal in an extradition case initiated by the United States.