Julian Assange has lost his appeal against his extradition to the United States for espionage.
Judgment was delivered privately in the High Court on Monday.
WikiLeaks founder Assange, 51, made the appeal last June after then-Home Secretary Priti Patel signed an order authorizing his dismissal.
Yesterday his wife Stella said he would appeal the decision. This will be Assange’s last chance to overturn the decision before his options in the UK courts are exhausted.
The Freedom of the Press Foundation said it was “very disappointed by the UK High Court’s rejection of Julian Assange’s appeal against his extradition to the United States on espionage law charges. “.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, 51, made the appeal last June after then Home Secretary Priti Patel signed an order authorizing his dismissal.
Stella Assange, wife of imprisoned journalist and Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, speaks at the Free Assange Quad Rally last month in Sydney, Australia
Advocacy director Seth Stern said: “The idea of Assange or anyone else being tried in a US court for obtaining and releasing confidential documents in the same way that investigative journalists do every day should be terrifying to all Americans.”
“If (President Joe) Biden allows this case to continue, future administrations will surely use the precedent of Assange’s prosecution and unconstitutional authority to criminalize the gathering of information that Biden claims, to go after journalists. that they don’t like.
“It’s time for Biden to drop this case and show the world he’s serious about press freedom.”
It is still possible that his extradition will be blocked by a last minute intervention by European judges.
In December, Assange appealed to the European Court of Human Rights.
To stop his extradition now, the European Court would have to issue an emergency injunction known as a Rule 39 order.
This allows a judge to effectively block any action until further court proceedings to rule on the merits of a case.
These “interim measures” are generally used to suspend extradition, often by asylum seekers who fear persecution if returned to their country of origin.
Between 2020 and 2022, the ECHR granted 12 out of 161 requests for “interim measures” against the UK government.
More recently, the order has been used to stop the deportation of illegal migrants to Rwanda.
Such an order would be hugely controversial and would likely be seen as yet another attack on British sovereignty, fueling calls for Britain to leave the European Convention on Human Rights.
Protesters wave banners during the Free Julian Assange Quad Rally on May 24 in Sydney, Australia
Supporters of Julian Assange recently demonstrated in Hyde Park, Sydney, demanding his freedom
Meanwhile, Home Office officials are preparing the necessary paperwork to extradite Assange at short notice.
If there are no further legal challenges, his extradition could take place in the coming weeks.
The case is considered one of the longest extradition battles of the past decade.
In 2019, he was indicted by US authorities for nearly 500,000 documents leaked in 2010 and 2011 from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
If convicted in the United States, Mr Assange faces a sentence of up to 175 years in prison, his lawyers have said.
However, the US government said the sentence was more likely to be between four and six years.
In a long legal battle, a district judge at Westminster Magistrates Court initially blocked his extradition in January 2021 due to a real and “oppressive” risk of suicide.
But that decision was overturned by the High Court after US authorities assured Mr Assange would be spared highly restrictive detention conditions.
Yesterday Assange’s lawyers, Birnberg Peirce, said no one was available to comment on the ongoing case.
Assange’s wife, human rights lawyer Stella, tweeted: ‘On Tuesday next week my husband will file a further appeal to the High Court.
“The case will then proceed to a public hearing before two new High Court judges and we remain optimistic that we will prevail and that Julian will not be extradited to the United States where he faces charges which could lead to him spending the rest of his life in a maximum security prison for publishing truthful information that revealed war crimes committed by the US government.