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Decision On Assange Extradition Expected Today

The High Court of England and Wales will issue a ruling today as to whether Australian journalist Julian Assange will be extradited to America or whether another appeal will be allowed. The decision is expected to be handed down late morning London time.

At stake is Assange’s application to the High Court to appeal the U.K. Home Secretary’s order to extradite him to the U.S. to face an 18 count indictment with a potential 175 year prison sentence. There he would stand trial on U.S. Espionage Act charges for publishing classified material that revealed evidence of U.S. war crimes.

Today’s hearing could be the conclusion of the long trial that has gone on for more than four years. Either Assange will be granted an appeal, or he will have reached the end of the road in the British courts. He could then be extradited very quickly - possible within 24 hours, barring an injunction from the European Court of Human Rights.

On the 26th of March, the High Court ruled that Assange had three potential grounds to appeal, because 1). his extradition was incompatible with his free speech rights enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights; 2.) that he might be prejudiced because of his nationality (not being given 1st Amendment protection as a non-American) and 3). because he had inadequate protection against the death penalty. (Without such protection Britain cannot extradite him.).

Rather than hearing the appeal, the High Court gave the U.S. the chance to provide assurances that it would not use the death penalty, and to guarantee his free speech rights.

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On the 16th of Apr, the U.S. provided a standard assurance in regards to the death penalty and a non-assurance in relation to free speech protections.

At a press conference in London on Wednesday last week, Stella Assange, Julian’s wife said: “It seems like they (the U.S. government) are given endless chances to change their case in order to get Julian extradited to face 175 for publishing evidence of U.S. war crimes”.

THE TRUST FALL: JULIAN ASSANGE is currently showing at cinemas in Aus, NZ and the UK, including the UK’s largest cinema chain - ODEON. This film has been seen by more than 40,000 people in cinemas so far and won multiple awards. It examines the meaning and significance of the insights that WikiLeaks shared with the world, the resulting behaviour of the governments involved, the extraordinary personal risk taken by Assange, and the wider fundamental issues around press freedom that affect all of us.

Kym Staton is the Writer & Director of THE TRUST FALL and is available for commentary on the current situation and the outcome of the high courts decision, and what the future holds for Julian Assange.

“This is the single most significant court case relating to free speech and press freedom in modern history. One cannot overstate the importance of this event for the protection of freedom of expression. It is a litmus test for censorship in the modern era and a challenge to our ability to defend our right to know the truth about the crimes of the powerful”. - Said Staton.

Staton is an expert on the topic and has been interviewed over 100 times in the past 2 years, including on BBC News Global TV, Talk TV and London Live TV.

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