Wikileaks founder and journalist Julian Assange has been denied permission to appeal against his extradition to the United States, the United Kingdom Supreme Court has ruled, upholding a high court ruling issued on 10 December 2021.
The court ruled Assange could not appeal because the case ‘didn’t raise an arguable point of law’.
Executive Director of ARTICLE 19, Quinn McKew said:
“ARTICLE 19 reiterates our opposition to the espionage charges the US government is pursuing against Mr. Assange. Exposing wrong-doing by those in power should not be a crime.
The UK government should not support the US’ criminalisation of those who gather news and expose serious human rights violations and crimes.
We call on President Joe Biden and the US Attorney General to dismiss the underlying indictment on espionage charges against Julian Assange and demonstrate the leadership we need to protect journalists and freedom of expression.”
In January 2021, Judge Vanessa Baraitser ruled that Assange could not be extradited on mental health grounds. He faces charges of espionage and hacking government computers under the US’ Espionage Act, which ARTICLE 19 has pointed out does not comply with international standards on freedom of expression.
Following that ruling, the US launched an appeal. UK Home Secretary Priti Patel will make a final decision, but Assange’s legal team is likely to initiate proceedings against the UK at the European Court of Human Rights.
ARTICLE 19 has repeatedly raised concerns about criminal investigations into Julian Assange and WikiLeaks, as well as the prosecution of those who were sources of information, including Chelsea Manning.
Biden and other leaders around the world have spoken out against freedom of expression violations and respect for the media freedom around the world, including for the release of all arbitrarily-detained journalists. The UK also founded a global media freedom coalition to promote media freedom globally. The case against Assange undermines these commitments taken by both the UK and USA. If the US government fails in its obligations to protect journalists and whistleblowers who reveal information in the public interest, this will send a message to authoritarian governments that prosecuting journalists on dubious national security grounds is acceptable.
Regarding the European Court of Human Rights case, Assange’s team will pursue different grounds than the one argued in the recent Supreme Court case.