Julian Assange Can Be Extradited to the US, British Court Rules

The High Court overturned a previous ruling that blocked the WikiLeaks founder from being sent to the US to face espionage charges. Assange and his team still have options to appeal.
Dipo Faloyin
London, GB
Julian Assange Can Be Extradited to the US, British Court Rules
Julian Assange leaving Westminster magistrates court in January 2020. Photo: Dominic Lipinski/Press Association via AP Images

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange can be extradited to the US, the High Court in London ruled on Friday.

The ruling overturns a previous lower court decision that determined Assange, 50, could not be extradited due to the poor state of his mental health, amid fears the US would place him in solitary confinement.

“I find that the mental condition of Mr Assange is such that it would be oppressive to extradite him to the United States of America,” District Judge Vanessa Baraitser ruled in April. 

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If sent to the US, Assange will face multiple charges of espionage and hacking over the release of thousands of classified documents in 2010. 

After appealing April’s lower court decision, the US government successfully moved to assure the High Court that Assange would never face solitary confinement.

“That risk is in our judgment excluded by the assurances which are offered,” Lord Chief Justice Ian Burnett said in his ruling. “It follows that we are satisfied that, if the assurances had been before the judge, she would have answered the relevant question differently.”

The US government has also promised that Assange will be allowed to serve out any potential prison sentence – which defence lawyers say could amount to 175 years – back in his native Australia.

Assange’s lawyers are expected to appeal the High Court’s decision.