London judges delay Assange extradition, allow appeal over US assurances

London judges delayed Julian Assange’s extradition, allowing him to appeal. Assange, in custody since 2012, faces US charges for leaking classified documents, potentially resulting in a 175-year sentence. His lawyers argue US assurances on his rights are insufficient. Efforts continue for a resolution, with Australian support for his return.

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By Katharine Gemmell

The extradition of Julian Assange was delayed again after London judges gave the Wikileaks founder another chance to bring an appeal.

After more than a decade of legal wrangling, British judges gave Assange some hope of a reprieve. It means the Wikileaks founder, who has been in prison or in the Ecuadorian embassy in London since 2012, will not be put on a plane in the short term.

Stella Assange, wife of Julian Assange, departs the Royal Courts of Justice in London, on May 20.

Two London judges ruled Monday that Assange could bring a full-blown appeal after his lawyers successfully argued that US guarantees over his first amendment rights didn’t go far enough. If the assurances had been deemed sufficient, Assange could have been extradited within days. 

The US charged Assange with helping US Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning in obtaining around 750,000 classified or sensitive documents, one of the largest leaks of state secrets in US history. The charges carry a maximum penalty of 175 years in prison if he is found guilty on all counts, although sentences for federal crimes are typically less than that. 

President Joe Biden told reporters last month that the government was considering a request by the Australian government, Assange’s home country, to drop the case. US officials are also said to be considering a plea deal, according to a person familiar with the matter. 

Jennifer Robinson, Assange’s lawyer, said at a press conference last week that his legal team are working closely with the Australian government to try and find a resolution to the case. Assange has support from Prime Minister Anthony Albanese who said he has already paid a significant price and should be allowed back to Australia.

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