The administration of US President Joe Biden has appealed the ruling of a British judge against the extradition of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, according to a Justice Department official, Friday.
The appeal highlights Biden’s intention to prosecute Assange on charges related to Espionage and piracy due to WikiLeaks publishing hundreds of thousands of US military and diplomatic documents starting in 2009.
He was before the Justice Department until Friday to file an appeal against Judge Vanessa Barritzer’s January 4 ruling, stating that Assange suffers from mental health problems It would increase the risk of suicide if he were sent to the United States to stand trial.
Justice Department spokesman Mark Rimondi said, “We have lodged an appeal and continue to pursue the extradition.”
And after Baritzer’s ruling, which did not question the legal motives for the extradition request issued by the United States, the administration of former President Donald Trump decided to appeal the decision.
But Biden’s position was not clear, and he was under pressure from human rights groups to drop the case.
And after WikiLeaks began publishing US secrets in 2009, President Barack Obama’s administration at the time refused, and Biden was his deputy, Follow up on the case.
Assange considers that WikiLeaks is no different from other constitutionally protected media outlets to publish such material.
His trial may also mean suing powerful US news agencies for publishing material Similarly, it indicates legal battles that the government is likely to lose.
But during the term of Republican President Trump, who helped WikiLeaks in his 2016 election by publishing stolen Russian material that harms his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton, the Ministry of Justice filed a case National Security v. Assange.
In 2019, Assange of Australian origin was charged under the US Espionage Act and computer crime laws on multiple counts of conspiring with and directing others, from 2009 to 2019, to improperly obtain US secrets.
The United States accuses the founder of WikiLeaks of endangering American intelligence sources, and Assange denies this accusation. Among the documents that were leaked was a video showing the killing of civilians by US soldiers’ fire in Iraq in July 2007, and among the dead were two journalists from the Reuters news agency.
If convicted, Assange, 49, could be imprisoned for 175 years.
Former Assistant Attorney General John Demers said, “Julian Assange is not a journalist.”
Assange is still in detention by the British authorities pending an appeal.
Earlier this week, 24 organizations, including Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and Reporters Without Borders, urged Biden to drop the case.
She said in an open letter that “journalists are in news publications. Al-Kubra regularly talks with sources, asking for clarification or more documentation, and receiving and publishing documents that the government considers classified. ”
For her part, Assange’s fiancée, Stella Morris, said in a statement that Barritzer’s decision in January remains a reason.
She added that Judge Barritzer “had received clear advice from medical experts that ordering his trial in the United States would endanger his life.”
She stated that “any assurances By the (US) Department of Justice regarding the trial procedures or prison system that Assange may face in the United States is not only irrelevant but also meaningless because America has a long history of breaching its obligations towards extradition countries. ”