US Offers Assurances on Assange. His Wife Is Skeptical

'Blatant weasel words,' Stella Assange says of vow from US that's meant to jump-start extradition
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 17, 2024 6:25 AM CDT
Assange's Wife on US Extradition Vow: 'Weasel Words'
Activists marking five years since the arrest of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange demonstrate outside Belmarsh Prison in London on Sunday.   (AP Photo/David Cliff)

The United States made its deadline Tuesday, providing London's High Court with the assurances needed to jump-start Julian Assange's extradition from the UK. The WikiLeaks founder's wife, however, isn't exactly buying it, reports Reuters.

  • Backstory: Last month, two judges said that Australia's Assange—who was first arrested in late 2010 and is currently incarcerated in London's Belmarsh Prison—can appeal his case, in which he faces espionage charges, but only if the Biden administration didn't offer the proper assurances to him that a) he won't face the death penalty, and b) that he'll be afforded proper First Amendment rights during his trial, reports the Guardian.

  • Assurances: Per a document seen by Reuters, the US has promised that prosecutors won't seek the death penalty for Assange, and that the 52-year-old "will have the ability to raise and seek to rely upon at trial the rights and protections given under the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States." However, that second part comes with a caveat, noting that a decision on the "applicability of the First Amendment is exclusively within the purview of the US courts," giving the US a bit of wiggle room on that front.
  • Stella Assange: The WikiLeaks founder's wife calls the US' promises "blatant weasel words," noting on X that the US note "does nothing to relieve our family's extreme distress about his future—his grim expectation of spending the rest of his life in isolation in US prison for publishing award-winning journalism." She adds that the US "must drop this dangerous prosecution before it is too late."
  • Assange's brother: Gabriel Shipton tells Australia's ABC that the US prison system is "horrifying," and that his fear is that if his brother is extradited to the US, "we lose him forever."
  • Australia: Last week, Assange's home country broached the possibility of a felony plea deal with the US Justice Department, which the DOJ is said to be considering, reports the Wall Street Journal.
  • Denied appeal? If Assange doesn't get the OK to appeal, he could be extradited to the US "within days," with "his only hope ... if the European Court of Human Rights intervened," per the Guardian. The next court hearing on the matter is set for May 20.
(More Julian Assange stories.)

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