A British Appellate Court exhumed the possibility on Friday for Julian Assange to be extradited to the United States by reversing a lower court ruling that found the WikiLeaks founder's inimical mental health to be too brittle and vulnerable to hold out against the American criminal justice system.
The High Court in London ruled that U.S. assurances were adequate to guarantee Assange would be treated humanely and directed a lower court judge to send the extradition request to the home secretary for review. The home secretary, who oversees law enforcement in the U.K., will make the ultimate decision with regards to extradition of Assange.
However, the appellate court ruling handed down on Friday is likely to be brought to focus.
A lower court judge earlier this year had been defiant on an American request to extradite Assange to the U.S. to face spying charges over WikiLeaks’ publication of secret military documents a decade ago. District Judge Vanessa Baraitser denied extradition on health grounds, saying Assange was likely to kill himself if held under appaling U.S. prison conditions.
The United States appealed, challenging the notion that Assange’s mental health made him too vulnerable to withstand the U.S. judicial system. Lawyer James Lewis said Assange “has no history of serious and enduring mental illness” and does not meet the threshold of being so ill that he cannot combat harming himself.
U.S. authorities have told British judges that if they agree to extradite Assange, he could serve any U.S. prison sentence he receives in his native Australia.