A High Court judge in the United Kingdom has reportedly denied an appeal from Wikileaks publisher Julian Assange to block his extradition to the United States, where an 18-count indictment awaits him.
The Daily Mail’s Chris Pollard and Rebecca Camber first reported on the High Court’s private ruling, which is said to have come down on Monday. While Assange’s legal representation has until the end of the week to appeal the ruling, his lawyers have signaled he will not contest it, the report says.
In May 2019, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that a federal grand jury returned an 18-count superseding indictment against Assange for his alleged role in comprising troves of classified information. Specifically, the DOJ alleges that “Assange was complicit with Chelsea Manning, a former intelligence analyst in the U.S. Army, in unlawfully obtaining and disclosing classified documents related to the national defense.”
Assange and the Wikileaks databases allegedly received nearly half a million “activity reports” from Manning relating to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars as well as Guantanamo Bay detainee briefs, and “[m]any of these documents were classified at the Secret level,” the DOJ asserted.
Assange had lived at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London since 2012 under diplomatic asylum and gained citizenship in the country before officials at the embassy invited British authorities inside to apprehend him in April 2019, months after it was reported the DOJ had a sealed indictment against him.
If the Australian Assange does not pursue another appeal, the European Court of Human Rights would be the lone entity that could still block his extradition, according to the Mail. While he has already made an appeal to the court, such a scenario seems to be a long shot as the court has only granted such “interim measures” on seven percent of applications between 2020-22, per the outlet.
Moreover, such a move from the European court could be seen as undermining the United Kingdom’s legal system, according to the outlet.
“Such an order would be extremely controversial and likely be seen as another attack on British sovereignty, fuelling calls for Britain to leave the European Convention on Human Rights,” the report states.