- Sputnik International, 1920, 10.12.2021
US Wins Appeal to Extradite Assange
The US has won an appeal in London's High Court to have Wikileaks founder Julian Assange extradited on spying charges. In January, UK district judge Vanessa Baraitser ruled against extraditing Assange to the US, but the US Department of Justice appealed her decision to the London High Court.

Australia Must Show US It Won't Tolerate Assange Being Treated This Way, Lawyer Says

© AP Photo / Alberto PezzaliSupporters of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange hold placards as they gather outside the Royal Courts of Justice, in London, Saturday, Oct. 23, 2021, ahead of next week's extradition case appeal.
Supporters of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange hold placards as they gather outside the Royal Courts of Justice, in London, Saturday, Oct. 23, 2021, ahead of next week's extradition case appeal.  - Sputnik International, 1920, 10.12.2021
The London Administrative Court has upheld the US' appeal for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s extradition. The ruling has been met with harsh criticism from human rights activists and journalists across the globe.
Greg Barns, an Australian lawyer and adviser to the Australian Assange Campaign, explains why – if extradited – the WikiLeaks founder will never get a fair trial in the United States and what can be done to avoid his extradition.
Do you believe Assange will be extradited to the US?
That depends on the political will of the Australian government. I'm speaking to you as an adviser to the Australian Assange campaign, and of course, he's an Australian citizen and it's incumbent upon the Australian government to ensure that its citizen, Julian Assange, is not sent to the United States. Because we know what's going to happen here, that is, he'll be convicted. He'll get what's called an effective death penalty of 170 years in jail, and he will be subjected to cruel unusual punishment because that's the nature of people who are charged with that type of offence in the US prison system.
Do you think he will face a fair trial there?
I don't, and many lawyers don't, and certainly many lawyers in Australia don't because the jurisdiction which would be trying him in the United States in eastern Virginia has a very high conviction record for people charged with espionage type offences. There's been so much adverse publicity against him in that part of the United States. It would be extremely difficult to get a fair trial, and I don't think many lawyers believe that he will get a fair trial.
As the legal team is going to appeal the verdict, how long will it take? Is there any chance the appeal will succeed?
It matters that you've got to look at it very carefully. And of course, if the matter is taken up by the UK Supreme Court, they'll get another opportunity to look at it. But really, there's an opportunity here, and I can say this as an Australian for the Australian government to really stand up for one of its own citizens. Australia is the number one ally of the United States in the Asia-Pacific region. It's one of its closest allies globally, and it ought to be showing to the United States that it won't tolerate one of its citizens being treated in this way, particularly when this case represents such an assault on freedom of the press and freedom of speech.
Supporters of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, hold placards outside the Royal Courts of Justice in London on December 10, 2021. - Sputnik International, 1920, 10.12.2021
US Wins Appeal to Extradite Assange
Live Updates: Amnesty International Calls Assange's Extradition Ruling 'Travesty of Justice'
Why is Assange being treated like this? What signal does this verdict send to the international human rights and media community?
We'll see what's behind, it's that there are people in the United States who were extremely embarrassed by the revelations of war crimes committed by the United States in Iraq and in Afghanistan, and when powerful nations have their dirty linen exposed, their secrets exposed, they tend to get very angry about it. In this case, what they're doing to Julian Assange is attacking freedom of speech, attacking a free press and attacking the right of individuals and all of us to expose wrongdoing by governments.
I think to the international journalists' community it sends a very chilling signal, which is the United States, if you publish material that it claims to be not in its interests, particularly in relation to its military and security activities, will come after you and it will have you seek to have you extradited to the US, even though you might not have any contact with the jurisdiction. That's the difficulty with this case, and it represents a real threat. Many Australian journalists have said that, international groups such as Amnesty International have said that.
Biden is now hosting the Summit for Democracy; at the same time, the London High Court has decided to extradite Julian Assange to the US. The irony of this coincidence is not lost. Why such hypocrisy?
Courts, of course, operate, looking at the legal issues, an extradition case is often very, very political and this is a very political case, and I've been involved in extradition and seen extradition cases myself. I've seen extradition cases myself where, at the end of the day, there're very political decisions as to whether or not someone is extradited. And this really needs to be elevated to where it should have started and ended and that is at the political level in Australia. As you know, this is an Australian citizen. Australia has an obligation to its citizens to make sure that they are not subject to the sort of punishment that would happen to Assange if he went to the US. But Australia also ought to be acting because of the appalling conditions that Julian is being treated in Belmarsh Prison in the UK. Again, this is a key Australian ally. The United Kingdom, London and Washington are the two key Australian allies and have been for many, many years, and there's so much goodwill that Australia has in London and Washington. It would be so easy for the Australian foreign minister to pick up the phone tomorrow and say enough is enough.
They can't do it. But at the end of the day, there needs to be continued pressure on them to make sure they do it and the Australian government needs to keep getting that message. There is, to be fair, a very strong group of politicians in Australia, in the Australian parliament, across the political spectrum that have been pushing the government on this, and we need to continue to put that pressure on in Australia.
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