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Julian Assange Still Awaits Final Extradition Ruling, Here’s What WikiLeaks Founder Has To Do With Bitcoin

Last Updated March 26, 2024 4:08 PM
Teuta Franjkovic
Last Updated March 26, 2024 4:08 PM
By Teuta Franjkovic
Verified by Peter Henn

Key Takeaways

  • The UK court has put Julian Assange’s extradition on hold, asking for assurances from the United States.
  • If the US doesn’t provide the required assurances, Assange can appeal his extradition within the UK court system.
  • The case centers on freedom of speech and the potential political motivation behind Assange’s prosecution.

A court has adjourned its decision  on whether Julian Assange can appeal against his extradition by three weeks.

This delay is to allow the US government time to provide assurances that Assange will not face the death penalty if convicted.

UK Court Delays Assange Extradition for US Assurances on Sentence

The US, therefore, must comply  with this requirement before the British court can proceed further in the extradition process. US authorities have accused the Wikileaks founder of endangering lives by publishingv of thousands of classified documents.

However, Assange’s legal team has contended  the case represents a form of “state retaliation.” In a High Court judgment  on Tuesday, Dame Victoria Sharp and Mr Justice Johnson said Assange would have the opportunity to appeal on three grounds, provided the United States did not give assurances regarding his potential sentencing and the avoidance of the death penalty.

The assurances sought by the court pertain to several key factors. Firstly, that the 52-year-old would be able to invoke the protections of the First Amendment, which defends freedom of speech in the United States. Secondly, he would not face prejudice during trial based on his nationality.

Lastly, the court asked for assurances that Assange would not be given the death penalty if found guilty. The judges have granted the US authorities a three-week period to provide these assurances, with a potential final hearing scheduled for May 20.

Dame Victoria, during the court’s ruling, stated :

“If assurances are not given then we will grant leave to appeal without a further hearing. If assurances are given then we will give the parties an opportunity to make further submissions before we make a final decision on the application for leave to appeal.”

UK Court Denies Assange’s Political Motive Claim, Limits Legal Options

In a setback for Assange, UK judges have dismissed several grounds of his application to appeal, including his claim he was prosecuted due to his political opinions.

Should his latest appeal fail, Assange will have exhausted all legal avenues in the UK, leaving the European Court of Human Rights as his remaining option.

Addressing supporters outside the court, his wife, Stella, labeled him a “political prisoner“. She called upon the Biden administration to drop what she termed a “shameful case”. Assange faces espionage charges in the US for the publication of hundreds of thousands of leaked classified documents in 2010 and 2011.

In February’s hearing, Julian Assange’s legal representatives contended that the authorities were singling him out for his exposure of “state-level crimes” and characterized his punishment as “politically motivated.” However, US lawyers countered these claims, arguing that WikiLeaks’ actions had “put lives at risk.” The clash in arguments underscores the deeply contested nature of Assange’s legal battle, with significant implications for press freedom and government accountability.

WikiLeaks Turns to BTC After Blockade, Receives Millions in Donations

Five years ago, Julian Assange was arrested by UK authorities on US espionage charges after being ousted from the Ecuadorian embassy in London.

The charges stemmed from sensitive information released by WikiLeaks, including the “Cablegate” files, which included a video showing Apache helicopters killing civilians and journalists during the Iraq war. Following the release, WikiLeaks faced a banking block from major financial institutions, prompting them to rely on Bitcoin donations.

Satoshi Nakamoto, Bitcoin’s creator, commented  on Bitcoin’s potential role in aiding WikiLeaks but soon disappeared from public view. WikiLeaks’ adoption of Bitcoin showcased the currency’s value proposition, with donations totaling 3,050 BTC, now valued at over $157 million.

Notable transactions include 16.99 BTC in May 2021 and 12.23 BTC in February 2022, showing ongoing support for the organization.

Wikileaks crypto inflow
Credit: Arkham Intelligence/TradingView

Assange Faces US Extradition Despite Long Prison Term Threat

Julian Assange’s legal team asserts that he faces a potential sentence of up to 175 years in jail if convicted. However, the US government has hinted that a more likely sentence would fall between four to six years.

In 2021, the UK High Court ruled in favor of extradition, dismissing claims of poor mental health that could lead to self-harm in US custody. The UK Supreme Court subsequently upheld this decision. After that, in 2022, then-Home Secretary, Priti Patel, confirmed the extradition order.

Despite efforts to appeal to the European Court of Human Rights in 2022, the case was dismissed without a hearing. In a gesture of support, Australia’s parliament has passed a motion urging the UK and US to release Assange. However this carries no legal weight for either government’s actions.

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