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teleSUR/ JF

Feb 22, 2024

The Wikileaks founder has been held at London's high-security Belmarsh Prison since 2019.

On Wednesday, the United Kingdom High Court concluded its two-day hearing on WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange's appeal against his extradition to the United States on espionage charges, but the judges said they would give their decision at a later date.

Assange, 52, is wanted in the United States on allegations of disclosing national defense information following WikiLeaks's publication of thousands of documents relating to the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, which included an Apache helicopter video footage documenting the U.S. military gunning down Reuters journalists and children in Baghdad's streets in 2007.

He has been held at southeast London's high-security Belmarsh Prison since 2019. Lawyers for the United States said earlier that he would be allowed to transfer to Australia, his home country, to serve any prison sentence he may be given.

The UK approved his extradition to the United States in 2022 under then Home Secretary Priti Patel after a judge initially blocked it on Assange's mental health concerns.

Assange was absent from the two-day proceedings due to illness as two judges at the UK High Court, namely Victoria Sharp and Justice Johnson, heard arguments from his legal team and lawyers representing the U.S. government.

Clair Dobbin, a lawyer for the United States, said during Wednesday's hearing that the WikiLeaks founder "indiscriminately and knowingly published to the world the names of individuals who acted as sources of information to the U.S." Assange's lawyers referenced alleged U.S. plot to kidnap or kill the WikiLeaks founder reported in 2021.

If the two judges at the UK High Court rule in Assange's favor, a full appeal hearing will be scheduled to consider his challenge and could lead to a new decision about his extradition.

If he loses the case, Assange could be extradited within weeks unless his legal team can get an emergency injunction at the European Court of Human Rights in time.

Hundreds of supporters of Assange gathered outside the High Court on Wednesday despite rain, holding signs that read "Free Julian Assange" and chanting "No extradition!." 

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