US Lawyers Launch Bid To Have Assange Extradited From The UK

Supporters of Julian Assange outside yesterday’s court hearing demand he is not extradited to the US

US LAWYERS yesterday launched a fresh attempt to have Julian Assange extradited from Britain, arguing that concerns about the WikiLeaks founder’s mental health should not prevent him from facing US justice.

Lawyers acting for the United States are appealing against a January 4 ruling by a London District Judge that Assange should not be extradited because his mental health problems meant he would likely commit suicide in a US prison.

In a document outlining their arguments, presented to the Court of Appeal and circulated to media, the lawyers said the United States had provided Britain with ‘a package of assurances’ addressing the District Judge’s concerns.

These included that Assange would not be subject to a set of strict detention conditions known as Special Administrative Measures and would not be detained at a maximum security penitentiary in Florence, Colorado, known as ADX.

The US authorities had also assured Britain that they would consent to Assange serving any custodial sentence imposed by a US court in Australia, the document said.

In their response, also presented to the court, Assange’s lawyers rejected the US assurances, saying he could be held in another maximum security facility under oppressive conditions that would drive him to suicide.

On the point about serving his sentence in Australia, they said Canberra had given no indication that it would consent to that arrangement, and in any case it would take so long he would be at high risk while awaiting a transfer.

‘On the evidence, Mr Assange will most likely be dead before it (the proposed transfer) can have any purchase,’ they wrote.

The appeal hearing is scheduled to last two days, with the judges expected to give their ruling at a later date.

Supporters of Assange gathered outside the court building from early yesterday, chanting ‘free Julian Assange’, before his father and Stella Morris, his partner and mother of his two children, arrived.

Assange, who denies any wrongdoing, is being held at Belmarsh Prison. He had been expected to appear via video link but the court was told he did not feel well enough to do so.

Assange’s lawyers said the District Judge had been right to take into account the expert’s evidence.

WikiLeaks came to prominence when it published vast troves of confidential US military records and diplomatic cables which the U.S. says put lives in danger.

His supporters hail Assange as an anti-establishment hero victimised for exposing US wrongdoing in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Over 100 supporters of Julian Assange attended a defiant eve-of-court appeal meeting Tuesday evening 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.