Julian Assange Extradition Hearings
UPDATE JANUARY 4, 2021 > the Magistrate’s Court in London did not approve the extradition of Julian Assange to the US! Read more: Assange extradition decision welcome but exposes 'politically-motivated process'.
UPDATE JANUARY 6, 2021 > Bail application denied! Read more: UK: Decision to refuse Assange bail renders his continued detention 'arbitrary'
Julian Assange is currently being held at Belmarsh, a high security prison in the UK, on the basis of a US extradition request on charges that stem directly from the publication of disclosed documents as part of his work with Wikileaks. He faces up to 175 years if convicted. Initial hearings on the case were held last February with Amnesty's Julia Hall there as an observer.
On March 25, 2020, Julian Assange's lawyers applied for bail, reiterating health concerns amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Bail was denied. Decreasing the prison population and the number of people in detention centres is a crucial means of slowing the spread of COVID-19 and keeping people safe. If Julian Assange has an underlying condition that puts him at risk, he should be immediately released on bail, as should any detainees and prisoners at such risk who does not pose a risk to society.
UPDATE: The full extradition hearing resumed on September 7, and ran for four weeks. On October 1, the District Judge announced that she will pronounce the judgement on January 4, 2021.
Amnesty International was repeatedly denied observer status. Read our responses from Julia Hall and Stefan Simanowitz. You can follow @StefSimanowitz and @JuliaHall18 on Twitter for updates on the case.
In the context of the Assange case, publication of disclosed documents mirrors the work of investigative journalists. Punishing this kind of activity can have a chilling effect on the right to freedom of expression, leading journalists to self-censor from fear of prosecution.
Amnesty International strongly opposes any possibility of Julian Assange being extradited or sent in any other manner to the USA. Such a transfer brings with it the risk of serious human rights violations including possible detention conditions that would amount to torture and other ill-treatment (such as prolonged solitary confinement. Additionally, the fact that he was the target of a negative public campaign by US officials at the highest levels undermines his right to be presumed innocent and puts him at risk of an unfair trial.
International human rights law and standards forbid the transfer of an individual to another country where there is a real risk they would face serious human rights violations.