WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange May Face Extradition to the U.S.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange continues to be punished for his pursuit of transparency.
Last Friday, the British High Court ruled in favor of America’s request to extradite Assange from the UK to the U.S. on espionage charges. This ruling overturned a January 2021 ruling that barred Assange from extradition due to evidence of his deteriorating mental health. Although the extradition won’t be finalized until British Home Secretary Prita Patel approves the request, it is not looking promising for Assange.
With the aid of former U.S. Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning, Assange released thousands of classified documents to the public via WikiLeaks in 2010, exposing U.S. war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan. Assange spent seven years of political asylum in Ecuador before the U.S. submitted their extradition request and Assange was arrested in 2019. He has since spent his days in an increasingly fragile state of health in Belmarsh prison, known by some as “Britain’s Guantanamo Bay.”
According to an article written by journalist Chris Hedges for MintPress, Assange “has been observed pacing his cell until he collapses, punching himself in the face and banging his head against the wall.” He is evidently disoriented and depressed, and has “repeatedly called the suicide hotline run by the Samaritans.”
Just this October, Assange’s fiance Stella Morris reported that Assange had “suffered a stroke on the first day of the High Court appeal hearing.” She has vowed to appeal the latest ruling against Assange, increasingly concerned for his mental health and wellbeing.
It’s clear Morris fears what awaits Assange in America. If Assange is convicted in the U.S., he faces up to 175 years in prison.
Assange’s cruel treatment and prosecution is a symbolic threat to truth-seeking journalists everywhere. On Friday, December 10, The Freedom of the Press Foundation released a response to the latest ruling, stating:
“Today’s ruling is an alarming setback for press freedom in the United States and around the world, and represents a notable escalation in the use of the Espionage Act in the ‘War on Whistleblowers’ that has expanded through the past several presidential administrations.”
That same Friday, Bay Area residents gathered at the UK Consulate in San Francisco to protest Assange’s extradition and American threats to press freedom.
As Assange awaits a final decision, protests will likely continue in earnest.