The US won its appeal against a January UK court ruling that he could not be extradited due to concerns over his mental health.
The judge accepted Assange suffers from depression and that there is a high risk of suicide. If extradited, she considered it likely the US would send him to prison under special administrative measures (SAMs) and wouldn’t prevent Assange from committing suicide. Therefore, she considered his extradition “unfair”.
This ruling, appealed by the US government, has now been rejected by judges from the UK High Court in London, who were reassured by US promises to reduce the risk of suicide, challenging medical evidence.
Assange’s fiancée Stella Moris said they intended to appeal against the ruling and called it "dangerous and misguided".
"For the past... two years and a half, Julian has remained in Belmarsh prison, and in fact he has been detained since 7 December 2010 in one form or another, 11 years. For how long can this go on?", she said in a statement.
A long fight against Assange's extradition
If convicted, Assange could face up to 175 years in prison. The US government accuses him of encouraging whistleblower Chelsea Manning to break into the government's computer system in 2010 and to provide information containing clear evidence of war crimes, including the publication of the video Collateral murders. One video released showed, via an onboard camera on a US Apache helicopter in Iraq, the deliberate shooting of civilians by the US military in Baghdad on 12 July 2007. At least 18 people were killed in the incident, including two Reuters journalists.
The IFJ raised Assange's case at the United Nations and joined more than 40 press freedom, human rights and privacy groups to call on the UK government to release Mr. Assange without further delay.
The IFJ and its affiliates all over the world have also repeatedly called on US President Joe Biden to end years of politically motivated prosecution of Julian Assange by dropping the charges against him.
IFJ General Secretary, Anthony Bellanger, said: “Today’s ruling is a major blow to our hopes to see Assange free. It’s clear, and it has been widely proved, that extraditing Assange to the United States would put his life in extreme danger. We therefore oppose this ruling and will support Assange’s legal team's appeal against it. Assange must be released immediately”.
Chair of the IFJ Surveillance Working Group, Tim Dawson, said: "How two of the most senior judges in England could take at face value assurances from the US government is extraordinary. Only a few months ago we learned that the US plotted to kidnap or even assassinate Julian Assange. If Assange does ultimately face trial in the US, it will cast a shadow over journalists the world over. Who, that upsets the US government will not fear that they will be next?"