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WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange will find out on Monday whether the Australian can be extradited from the United Kingdom to the United States to face espionage charges for the publication of secret US military documents.

District Judge Vanessa Baraitser is due to deliver her decision at the Old Bailey courthouse in London at 10am on Monday. If it agrees to the request, Britain’s Home Secretary Priti Patel would make the final decision.

The losing side is expected to appeal, which could lead to more years of legal disputes.

However, there is the potential for outside forces to come into play that could instantly end the decade-long saga.

Stella Moris, Assange’s partner and mother of his two children, has appealed to the President of the United States, Donald Trump, through Twitter, to grant a pardon to Assange before he leaves office on January 20.

And even if Trump doesn’t, it is speculated that his successor, Joe Biden, could take a more lenient approach to Assange’s extradition process.

US prosecutors charged Assange, 49, with 17 counts of espionage and one count of computer misuse that carry a maximum sentence of 175 years in prison.

Attorneys acting on behalf of the US government said in their closing arguments after the four-week hearing in the fall that Assange’s defense team had raised issues that were neither relevant nor admissible.

“On a constant basis, the defense asks this court to determine, or act on the basis of the petition, that the United States of America is guilty of torture, war crimes, murder, violations of diplomatic and international law and that States The United of America is ‘a lawless state,’ “they said.” Not only are these filings not justiciable in these proceedings, they should never have been made.

Inside the US supermax prison that Julian Assange faces

Buildings are reflected in the window as WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is removed from court, where he was charged with missing British bail seven years ago, in London on Wednesday, May 1, 2019. (AP)

Assange’s defense team argued that he is entitled to First Amendment protections for the release of leaked documents exposing US military irregularities in Iraq and Afghanistan and that the US extradition request was politically motivated.

In its final written arguments, Assange’s legal team accused the United States of an “extraordinary, unprecedented and politicized” prosecution that constitutes “a flagrant denial of its right to freedom of expression and poses a fundamental threat to freedom of the press. all over the world. “

Defense attorneys also said Assange suffered from a wide range of mental health problems, including suicidal tendencies, that could be exacerbated if he is placed in inhospitable prison conditions in the United States.

They said his mental health deteriorated while taking asylum within the Ecuadorian Embassy in London for years and that he was diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. Assange jumped bail in 2012 when he applied for asylum at the embassy, ​​where he remained for seven years before being evicted and arrested. He has been held at Belmarsh Prison in London since April 2019.

His legal team argued that Assange, if extradited, would likely face solitary confinement that would put him at a higher risk of suicide. They said if he was later found guilty, they would likely send him to the notorious ADX Supermax prison in Colorado, which is also inhabited by Unabomber Ted Kaczynski and Mexican drug lord Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán.

Julian Assange’s girlfriend, Stella Moris, right, and Assange’s lawyer, Jennifer Robinson, walk after lunch to court in London. (AP)
Julian Assange. (AP)

Lawyers for the US government argued that Assange’s state of mind “is clearly not so severe as to preclude extradition.”

Assange has attracted support from high-profile figures, including dissident Chinese artist Ai Weiwei and actress Pamela Anderson.

Daniel Ellsberg, the famous American whistleblower, also came out in support and told the hearing that they had “very comparable political views.”

The 89-year-old, widely recognized for helping end the Vietnam War through the leaked Pentagon Papers in 1971, said the American public “urgently needed to know what was being done routinely in their lives. name, and there was no other way for them to learn it than through unauthorized disclosure. “

There are clear echoes between Assange and Ellsberg, who leaked more than 7,000 pages of classified documents to the press, including The New York Times and The Washington Post. Ellsberg was subsequently tried on 12 counts of Espionage Law violations, punishable by up to 115 years in prison. The charges were dropped in 1973 due to government misconduct against him.

Assange and his legal team hope that developments in the United States will end their ordeal if the judge grants the US extradition request.


www.9news.com.au

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