US Justice Department 'Pleased' by Ruling on Assange Extradition
17:06 GMT 10.12.2021 (Updated: 18:30 GMT 03.11.2022)
A London court ruled Friday in favour of a US government appeal to extradite WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, overruling an earlier decision by a lower court to bar him from being sent to the United States amid fears that the mentally distressed journalist and activist may try to take his own life in a US jail.
The Justice Department is delighted by London High Court Lord Justice Timothy Holroyde's ruling in favour of the US government's appeal to undo a lower court's push to stop Julian Assange from being extradited.
"We are pleased by the decision," a Justice Department spokesperson told Sputnik. The spokesperson declined to elaborate.
Holroyde announced at a hearing Friday that the 50-year-old WikiLeaks founder could be extradited to the United States, reversing a January decision by UK district court judge Vanessa Baraitser that it would be "oppressive" to extradite him, saying that he might try to take his own life if imprisoned in America amid concerns over his mental health.
Assange's fiancee Stella Moris called Friday's ruling a "grave miscarriage of justice" and promised to appeal the decision at the earliest possible opportunity.
The decision has been broadly condemned by independent journalists, civil liberties and human rights groups around the world, including Reporters Without Borders, Amnesty International, the Freedom fo the Press Foundation, the Don't Extradite Campaign, the International Federation of Journalists, and others. Sputnik and RT editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan hailed Assange as a modern-day Galileo and suggested the "Pharisees" seeking to harm him should "burn in hell."
Assange has been effectively imprisoned for over nine years, ever since he took refuge in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London in 2012 amid fears of politically-motivated persecution and extradition to the United States via Sweden, where a pair of women accused him of sex crimes, over WikiLeaks' work to expose embarassing state and corporate secrets, including alleged US war crimes in Iraq. He was dragged out of the embassy in April 2019 and arrested by British authorities for 50 weeks for skipping bail in the sex crimes case, despite the fact that Swedish authorities had dropped those charges. Since then, he has been incarcerated at Belmarsh Prison. Extradition hearings began in September 2020. If extradited and convicted on the Espionage Act charges against him, Assange could spend the rest of his life in jail.