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Julian Assange in final High Court bid for appeal against extradition

The hearing is expected to be Assange’s final chance to be granted an appeal in a UK court (Victoria Jones/PA)
The hearing is expected to be Assange’s final chance to be granted an appeal in a UK court (Victoria Jones/PA)

Julian Assange is set to make his final bid for a domestic appeal against a judge’s ruling over his extradition to the United States.

The WikiLeaks founder is wanted in the US over an alleged conspiracy to obtain and disclose national defence information following the publication of hundreds of thousands of leaked documents relating to the Afghanistan and Iraq wars.

In a January 2021 ruling, then-district judge Vanessa Baraitser said that Assange should not be sent to the US, citing a real and “oppressive” risk of suicide, while ruling against the 52-year-old on all other issues.

US authorities subsequently brought a successful challenge against this decision, paving the way for Assange’s extradition.

Lawyers for Assange, who has been held in Belmarsh prison in south-east London, will now ask the High Court in London for the go-ahead to challenge the original judge’s dismissal of other parts of his case against extradition.

The hearing comes after High Court judge Mr Justice Swift first refused to give Assange the green light to appeal – without a hearing – last June.

Julian Assange extradition
Supporters are expected to attend the Royal Courts of Justice (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

A two-day hearing is now set to begin on Tuesday, which is expected to be Assange’s final chance to be granted an appeal in a UK court.

Speaking at a press conference last week, his wife Stella Assange said that if the appeal bid is unsuccessful, Assange would apply to the European Court of Human Rights for a Rule 39 order to stop extradition while it considers his case.

His supporters say the Australian national faces 175 years in prison if he is extradited.

During their earlier successful challenge, lawyers for the US authorities said Judge Baraitser’s decision risked becoming a “trump card” for anyone who wanted to oppose their extradition.

They also said that four “binding” diplomatic assurances had been made, including that the US would consent to Assange being transferred to Australia, where he was born, to serve any prison sentence he may be given.

The two-day hearing before Dame Victoria Sharp and Mr Justice Johnson is due to begin at 10.30am on Tuesday.