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Welcome Reprieve As UK High Court Allows Assange’s Appeal Against Extradition To The United States: UN Expert

GENEVA (22 May 2024) – The decision of the High Court of Justice in London to allow the appeal of Wikileaks Founder Julian Assange against his extradition to the United States is a welcome relief, but the case is not over yet, a UN expert warned today.

“I welcome the High Court’s decision to allow the case to proceed to a full appeal. This is a terribly complex case, but at the heart of it are issues around human rights and values we hold as a society and the protections afforded to those who disclose potential war crimes,” said Alice Jill Edwards, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture.

The Court held that the US assurances were not sufficient, which now means that Assange’s appeal will be reconsidered, and that he cannot – for now – be lawfully transferred to face 18 charges in the US, nearly all of them under the Espionage Act of 1917. These charges relate to the allegedly unlawful releases of diplomatic cables and other documents via WikiLeaks.

Edwards previously called for the UK government to take all necessary measures to protect Julian Assange’s life and safeguard his physical and mental health.

“The impact of this long-running legal saga has taken a heavy toll on Mr. Assange’s health. I hope that relevant governments, including Mr. Assange’s own country Australia, can come to an agreement, rather than proceed further with lengthy legal battles,” she said.

Julian Assange faces 18 criminal counts in the United States for his alleged role in unlawfully obtaining and disclosing classified documents related to national defence. He has been detained in the United Kingdom since 2019 and is currently being held at Belmarsh prison.

The Special Rapporteur on Torture will continue to follow this case closely.

Dr. Alice Jill Edwards is the Special Rapporteur on Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment

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