Assange Defense Insists Suicide Risk Persists If WikiLeaks Founder Extradited to US

© REUTERS / TOM NICHOLSONSupporters of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange hold placards as they protest outside BBC broadcasting house, ahead of the appeal hearing over his extradition, in London, Britain October 23, 2021
Supporters of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange hold placards as they protest outside BBC broadcasting house, ahead of the appeal hearing over his extradition, in London, Britain October 23, 2021 - Sputnik International, 1920, 28.10.2021
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LONDON (Sputnik) – A lawyer for the defense of Julian Assange insisted on Thursday, at the UK High Court hearing on the extradition of the WikiLeaks founder to the United States, that the risk of his client committing suicide if extradited persists.
"There is nothing to suggest that these factors have changed in the least bit with these assurances," lawyer Edward Fitzgerald told the court on the second and final day of the hearing.
The assurances the attorney was referring to were presented on Wednesday by the US prosecutors and related to promises that, if put on trial and sentenced in the United States, Assange would not be incarcerated in the maximum-security prison of Florence (ADX), Colorado, or designated for the so-called Special Administrative Measures (SAMs) applied to dangerous criminals and terrorists.
"The new proffered and conditional assurances do not in fact remove the real risk of detention on SAMs or on ADX," Fitzgerald said, adding that "irrespective of the assurances" given, the district judge would probably have reached the same conclusion.
A supporter of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange protests outside the Royal Courts of Justice in London, Britain, October 27, 2021. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls - Sputnik International, 1920, 27.10.2021
Washington Provides Assurances to UK That Assange Can Serve Any US-Imposed Sentence in Australia
In January, district judge Vanessa Baraitser refused to hand Assange over to the US Department of Justice on the grounds that due to his mental disorder, which was assessed by an expert, the whistleblower might commit suicide if confined in an American prison. US prosecutors then appealed the ruling.
Assange is wanted by the United States on espionage charges after WikiLeaks published thousands of classified documents that shed light on alleged war crimes committed by American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. If put on trial and convicted in the US, the whistleblower faces up to 175 years in prison.
A supporter of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange holds a placard calling for his freedom outside Woolwich Crown Court and HMP Belmarsh prison in southeast London on February 24, 2020, ahead of the opening of the trial to hear a US request for Assange's extradition - Sputnik International, 1920, 06.06.2021
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'Suicide is a Very Real Fear': Assange's Fiancée Reveals WikiLeaks Founder's Mental Struggle in Jail
The British High Court judges will have from four to six weeks to decide whether to uphold the judge's previous ruling against Assange's extradition or overturn her decision. Whatever the ruling, the losing side is likely to appeal it in the British Supreme Court.
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