WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange faces possible extradition to the United States, to face charges of spying, following a new ruling by a British court. The London High Court has overturned a lower court’s ruling that Assange not face extradition.
The earlier court decision found that Assange’s mental health was too fragile to withstand the American court system. The Associated Press reports that this decision was discarded following assurances from the American government.
Assange faces seventeen charges of espionage and one of computer misuse in the States. The US has had him in its sights for about a decade but has been unable to extradite the WikiLeaks founder. So far, anyway. American lawyer James Lewis, in his representation to the British court, said that Assange, “…has no history of serious and enduring mental illness.”
Lewis said Assange, if extradited, would avoid incarceration in the Florence, Colorado supermax facility. He also claimed that Assange would be eligible to serve any American prison sentence in his native Australia. The maximum sentence the WikiLeaks founder faces is 175 years. Lewis said that “the longest sentence ever imposed for this offense is 63 months”.
There’s no guarantee the US government won’t push for the maximum in this case, however. WikiLeaks’ information releases from 2011 were diplomatically damaging to the United States. They may be out to make an example of the WikiLeaks founder. They’re unlikely to pursue prosecution for more than a decade for a slap on the wrist, after all.
Julian Assange’s fiance Stella Moris said that Assange’s lawyers would be filing an appeal as soon as possible. Assange himself is currently held at Belmarsh Prison in London.
Source: Associated Press