Fresh Attempt To Extradite Assange!

Demonstrators outside the High Court in the Strand on Tuesday morning, demanding the release of imprisoned journalist Assange

THE US has launched a fresh attempt to have WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange extradited from Britain to face charges that could jail him for life.

On Wednesday, lawyers for the US appealed against a British judge’s decision to block the 50-year-old Australian’s extradition, arguing that concerns around his mental health should not prevent him from facing his charges.

In January, District Judge Vanessa Baraitser at London’s Old Bailey ruled that Assange should not be extradited to the US, citing fears he could commit suicide, thus blocking his transfer to the US where he would be prosecuted for publishing secret US military documents.

The founder of whistleblower website WikiLeaks Julian Assange should not be extradited to the United States to face trial for espionage charges, according to a UK judge.

At the start of a two-day hearing in London, the US government asked Britain’s High Court to overturn the ruling.

‘We maintain that the district judge was wrong to come to the conclusion she did,’ said James Lewis, lawyer for the US government.

The two senior judges sitting on the High Court will deliver their own ruling at a later date, but the issue will probably drag on for longer still.

A document outlining Lewis’s arguments, presented to the court and released to media, said the US had provided the UK with ‘a package of assurances’ addressing the judge’s concerns.

‘The United States has also provided an assurance that the United States will consent to Mr Assange being transferred to Australia to serve any custodial sentence imposed on him,’ the document said.

Outside the court in central London on Wednesday, hundreds of demonstrators demanded his immediate release from London’s high-security Belmarsh jail.

One protester dressed in black and a funereal veil held a banner, reading, ‘RIP British Justice’ while another emphasised that Assange is an innocent defender of ‘press freedom’.

‘Extradition is a death sentence basically. If he’s extradited to America the conditions will be so much worse,’ said one of the demonstrators.’

Australia and Mexico have offered protection to Assange after the UK’s rejection of the US extradition request.

Australia’s prime minister says WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is ‘free to return home’ after his legal problems are taken care of, following the denial of a US plea for his extradition by a British court.

Washington accused Assange of 18 offences during the administration of former president Barack Obama in connection with the release by WikiLeaks of the secret US military records and diplomatic communication, which the government claimed put American lives at risk.

Many of those records unveiled covert efforts to take innocent lives or cover up atrocities by American military officers and their proxies overseas.

WikiLeaks first came to prominence when it published a US military video in 2010 showing a 2007 attack by Apache helicopters in Baghdad that killed a dozen people, including two Iraqi reporters working for the UK-based Reuters news agency. It then released thousands more US classified files and diplomatic cables.

Over 100 supporters of Julian Assange attended a defiant eve-of-court appeal meeting on Tuesday in Euston, central London.

Speakers included former Labour MP Chris Williamson, Icelandic investigative journalist Bjartmar Alexandersson and Andrew Feinstein, former South African ANC MP and anti-arms trade campaigner.

Alexanderson told the rally that the chief US prosecution witness, who is currently in prison and who has since recanted his evidence, is a diagnosed sociopath, convicted fraudster and child abuser, and a US FBI informant.

He said, ‘Julian Assange ignited the world and inspired all of us.

‘The original indictment against Julian Assange is based on a lie and he was granted immunity from prosecution by the FBI in 2019.

‘He is the man who tried to transform Julian Assange from a journalist to a hacker.

‘The US government lied to us and to Iceland and abused Icelandic laws for their illegal aims and the Interior Minister threw the FBI out of the country in 2013.

‘The original testimony against Julian Assange is from a liar and a criminal. The case is based on lies.’

Former Labour MP Chris Williamson said that Julian Assange had been betrayed by MPs and the courts.

‘We are supposed to be living in a democracy. I reject this system. How dare Tory minister Raab accuse China and Russia of Human Rights abuses when that is exactly what they are doing to Julian Assange.

‘Labour leader Keir Starmer, a Knight of the Realm, did everything he could to extradite Assange to Sweden when I was the only MP pushing Julian’s case. Why was it only me? They are keeping their heads down.

‘The CIA was even plotting to kidnap and assassinate Julian on British soil, while the corporate media looks like nothing more than a stenographer for the security services.’

Andrew Feinstein spoke how defence companies like British BAE profit from wars and outrages around the world and how Assange dared to expose the relationship between militarism and the US-UK arms trade, murdering innocent civilians in Yemen and elsewhere.

‘The British government has been exposed as a corrupt US poodle.

‘Those in power and the corporations will never give up power willingly – only when everybody joins the struggle to overthrow it,’ he concluded.

The following day outside the Royal Courts of Justice on the Strand there was a mass protest to demand Assange’s immediate release.

Inside the court, US representatives were attempting to overturn the decision earlier in the year not to extradite Assange to the US.

The US representatives were attempting to appeal the decision and if they win their appeal then Assange will be threatened again with extradition.

Sarah Decuret came from Switzerland for three days to join the protest with her friends. She said, ‘We are here to support Julian Assange and totally demand his release and for the freedom of people.

‘We tried to bring a mobile public sculpture to the picket but it is held up at the border. It has three life-size standing figures in bronze representing the whistle-blowers Julian Assange, Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden and an empty chair, inviting anyone to say something. It is titled ‘‘Have you anything to say?’’ and is by the Italian artist Davide Dormino. We are all whistle-blowers and we always have something to say.

‘We are here to change our state because social democracy has killed democracy. Resistance is not enough – we need revolution. We need to resist and react. We need to be driven by justice and not by fear.’

Teaching assistant Alex Brew, NEU member, spoke to News Line, saying, ‘I have followed the case for a long time. Julian Assange is persecuted and we have to stand up for him. The NUJ said it is backing Assange, as is Amnesty.

‘Any action organisations can do are good for democracy and freedom. Strike action, anything, everything.’

Student journalist Ana Hartford said, ‘I am filming a documentary about the Julian Assange case. It’s about freedom of journalism and I want to tell his story.

‘Absolutely he should be released immediately.

‘I think this is a pivotal moment for journalism and people outside activism and journalism should be aware of his case.

‘People should take action if he is no released and try to make sure that that nothing like this happens again. I think it’s at a government level.

‘The National Union of Students should also make the case more public,’ she added.