WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange will likely be extradited from the United Kingdom to the United States to face trial under the Espionage Act after losing an appeal to prevent his forced removal in a U.K. high court today.
Today's ruling overturned a lower court judge's decision to prevent extradition on the basis that threats to Assange's mental health — and risk of death by suicide — would dramatically increase once he was forcibly returned to the United States. U.S. government officials earned the ruling by promising that Assange's mental health would be protected and that he would not be subject to solitary confinement or imprisoned at the ADX Florence supermax jail in Colorado.
Assange was first officially charged under the Espionage Act in 2019 and then with a second superseding indictment in 2020, both charges that have drawn fierce criticism from free-speech advocates in the U.S. and human rights watch groups like Amnesty International. Though Assange published leaked material in 2010, the charges were not unsealed until 2019 because Assange took refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in London from 2012 to 2019.
After Assange was forced to leave the Ecuadorian Embassy after disputes with its government, U.K. authorities immediately arrested him on behalf of the United States.
"Julian's life is once more under grave threat, and so is the right of journalists to publish material that governments and corporations find inconvenient. This is about the right of a free press to publish without being threatened by a bullying superpower," WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Kristinn Hrafnsson said in a statement.