In a travesty of justice, the High Court overturned the previous ruling blocking the extradition of Assange, but the battle isn't over yet, reports Shabbir Lakha
In a shameful decision, the High Court decided on Friday to reinstate the extradition of Julian Assange, overturning the January ruling that blocked it.
The previous decision against the extradition was made on the basis that Assange was likely to be imprisoned in the harshest conditions in the US which the judge described as "oppressive" and posed a great risk of suicide. Delivering the verdict to overturn this ruling, Lord Chief Justice Burnett said that the risk of Assange facing serious harm and the risk of suicide in a US penetentiary is "in our judgment excluded by the assurances which are offered."
It is patently absurd that the judges could consider the promises made by the US as valid assurances, given their previous stated intention to imprison Assange for up to 175 years in a supermax prison, given the well-documented brutal reality of the US carceral system, and given the revelations that the CIA and the US government were implicated in plotting to extrajudicially assassinate Assange in the Ecuardorian embassy in London.
Stella Morris, Assange's fiancee, speaking outside the Court following the verdict, put it plainly,
"How can it be fair, how can it be right, how can it be possible, to extradite Julian to the very country which plotted to kill him?"
The gross miscarriage of justice is rooted in the fact that even in the previous judgment, the Court accepted the entirety of the US's case for extraditing Assange - that Assange had committed a crime, that he would face a fair trial in the US, that this was not political - and only blocked the extradition on the grounds of Assange's mental health and the conditions he'd face in a US prison.
It's not a big leap then for the higher Court to overturn the ruling on the flimsy assurances of the US without having to consider the actual facts of the case. A case in which a major witness admitted to falsifying evidence with the promise of immunity from the US Department of Justice and the FBI. A case which is inherently political and fundamentally about freedom of the press, democracy and civil liberties. The determination of the US and British states to punish Assange is part of stopping anyone being able to challenge the crimes they commit with impunity.
Craig Murray said outside the Court,
"We have the fact that Julian Assange is in prison for revealing to the world heinous war crimes and that none of those who committed the war crimes are in jail."
But the fight isn't over. The Don't Extradite Campaign's John Rees said,
"Let's be clear, this won't be the last time that we're outside a court of justice. The legal process is not exhausted, there will be another appeal... The assurances of his kidnappers, his would-be assassins, are not worth the paper they are written on. We will continue to fight."
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Shabbir Lakha is a Stop the War officer, a People's Assembly activist and a member of Counterfire.
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