On 2 May, there will be a hearing in London’s Westminster Magistrate Court on the US request for extradition of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange; the hearing is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. local time (09:00 GMT).
If found guilty of espionage, Assange could face the death penalty or imprisonment for life.
The US Department of Justice said, in turn, that they were seeking Assange's extradition over “conspiracy to commit computer intrusion for agreeing to break a password to a classified US government computer”.
Under the 2003 Extradition Act, however, the UK is prohibited from extraditing someone to a country where they could face the death penalty.
The Thursday hearing comes after Assange was sentenced to fifty weeks in prison by a UK court on Wednesday for violating his bail conditions in 2012, when he was facing extradition to Sweden over allegations of rape, which he described as politically motivated.
Commenting on the matter, author and free speech advocate Nozomi Hayase said that the 1 May “sentencing at Southwark Crown Court was a clear sign of the failure of Western institutions”.
Hayase noted that “Assange received just under the maximum possible sentence for skipping bail, which he did in seeking and obtaining political asylum to mitigate the risk of extradition to the US, relating to his publishing activities”.
She recalled that the right to asylum is “a basic human right enshrined in the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights”.
“The court abused its judicial authority to punish Assange, who was exercising this right. This sentence is another confirmation that Assange’s justice cannot rely on the legal system and that people need to mobilise and take action to free him”, she concluded.
The WikiLeaks whistleblower sought refuge at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London in 2012 and resided there for a span of almost seven years before his asylum was revoked on 11 April 2019, leading to his arrest the same day by UK police for jumping bail in Westminster Magistrate's Court.