The story behind Julian Assange’s extradition case and legal saga

Julian Assange, an activist and whistleblower, and the U.S. government have been pitted against each other for more than a decade.

On Friday, a British court ruled in favor of extraditing Assange to the United States to stand trial on allegations of leaking classified intelligence materials. The court overturned an earlier decision by a British court in January that Assange couldn’t be extradited due to his depression and risk of suicide .

The Australian-born Assange can appeal to the British Supreme Court, a process that could take weeks or months. After being refused bail, Assange remains behind bars.

The ruling is the latest stage in an international game of cat and mouse that began nearly a decade ago. Assange was held in London’s Ecuadoran Embassy for seven years. He claimed political asylum in order to escape arrest following jumping bail in Sweden when he was requested extradition on sexual assault charges.

The Swedish charges were dropped in 2017, but after the embassy evicted Assange last year, he was arrested by the British police on behalf of the United States. His extradition trial was delayed by the coronavirus pandemic.

Assange’s fate is of political importance in the United States, where WikiLeaks, which published hacked Democratic National Committee data, has been accused of playing a significant role in the 2016 election.

Advocates of free expression have argued that an Assange trial in the United States would be a setback for press freedom.

A British judge ruled on Jan. 4 that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange should not be extradited to the United States for violating the U.S. Espionage Act. (Reuters)

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