— Internet News

Julian Assange could serve jail time in Australia if convicted, US court rules

According to new assurances made by the US government, Julian Assange would be permitted to serve any custodial sentence he receives in an Australian prison if convicted on espionage and hacking charges in the United States. The assurances, which state Mr. Assange would also not be held in its strictest maximum-security jails, are seen as concessions in an attempt to extradite the 50-year-old to the US to face trial.

In January, a British judge refused a US extradition request, citing health grounds and the concern he would commit suicide if held in a ‘supermax-style’ American jail. Mr. Assange’s fiancé Stella Morris told SBS News the assurances aren’t concessions because foreign prisoners in the US have the right to request a transfer to their home country. She also fears her partner would be kept in solitary confinement, even if held in a lower security facility. Britain’s High Court has granted the US permission to appeal the decision to deny his extradition. “It’s mixed because, on the one hand, it’s been six months, and we haven’t had any news. It’s like an endless purgatory,” said Ms. Morris. “But it doesn’t end here. We don’t know how long this will go on and how long he’ll be imprisoned in that terrible place.”

Julian Assange

Mr. Assange has been held at London’s Belmarsh Prison since his arrest in April 2019 for skipping bail.

He had spent the previous seven years inside Ecuador’s London embassy to avoid extradition to Sweden, where prosecutors wanted to question him over allegations of sexual assault. That case was eventually dropped.

US prosecutors have indicted Mr. Assange on 18 counts of publishing secret government and military documents by Wikileaks.

He would face a maximum sentence of 175 years in jail if found guilty.

No date has been set for the US government’s extradition appeal, and it’s likely to be a slow process. Mr. Assange’s supporters believe their best hope of getting the Australian out of prison in the coming months is to appeal directly to the Biden Administration, even though there’s been no sign of the White House changing its position. “Secretary of State (Antony) Blinken is hiding behind the rhetoric that he cannot comment on this because this is a court procedure, that it’s not natural for politicians to intervene in,” said Wikileaks Editor-In-Chief Kristinn Hrafnsson.

“These kinds of arguments do not hold water. This is the way of the coward.”

Ms. Morris, the mother of Mr. Assange’s two youngest children, says now is the time for President Biden to step in and end a prosecution instigated by his predecessor. “There’s no way to stand up for the first amendment and defend democracy simultaneously as you’re prosecuting Julian Assange,” she said.

Molly Aronson

I'm an award-winning blogger who enjoys all things creative but is especially passionate about lifestyle design. I blog over at mehlogy.com I love that I get to share my passion for healthy living, fashion, fitness, and travel with readers from all over the world.

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