LONDON, England: The UK’s top court has rejected a request by WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to appeal a decision to extradite him to the U.S. to face spying charges, saying the case “did not raise an arguable point of law.”
For many years, Assange, 50, has sought to avoid a trial in the U.S. on a series of charges related to the publication of classified documents by WikiLeaks more than a decade ago.
Stating that Assange was likely to kill himself if held under harsh U.S. prison conditions, a British district court judge initially rejected a U.S. extradition request, but American authorities later provided assurances that the WikiLeaks founder would not face severe treatment.
In December, the High Court overturned the lower court’s decision, stating that the promises by the U.S. guaranteed Assange would be treated humanely.
Assange’s defense team could still take his case to the European Court of Human Rights or challenge the original judge’s other findings, while his U.S. layer, Barry Pollack, said that the decision by the UK court was “extremely disappointing.”
“Mr. Assange will continue the legal process fighting his extradition to the United States to face criminal charges for publishing truthful and newsworthy information,” he said in a statement.
U.S. prosecutors claimed Assange unlawfully helped Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning steal classified diplomatic cables and military files, which were later published by WikiLeaks.
But Assange’s supporters and lawyers argue that he was acting as a journalist and is entitled to First Amendment protections of freedom of speech for publishing documents, which exposed U.S. military wrongdoing in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Since 2019, Assange has been held at the high-security Belmarsh Prison in London, after being arrested for skipping bail during a separate legal battle.
He previously spent seven years at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, in a bid to avoid extradition to Sweden to face allegations of rape and sexual assault. Sweden dropped the sex crimes investigations in November 2019.
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