Julian Assange's bid to appeal against extradition to United States fails

Julian Assange arrives at court in London in April 2019. Credit: PA

Julian Assange has been denied permission to appeal against a court decision to extradite him to the United States, where he faces serious allegations over the release of leaked documents.

The Supreme Court on Monday confirmed the High Court’s decision in December 2021 to extradite the Wikileaks founder.

On Monday, the UK’s highest court said that senior judges had refused Assange’s bid to challenge the decision as his application did not raise “an arguable point of law”.

However, Assange’s legal team previously said there were other parts of his appeal that had not yet been heard by the High Court.

The 50-year-old was living at the Ecuadorean embassy in London, before he was arrested and transferred to HMP Belmarsh.

He is wanted in the US over an alleged conspiracy to obtain and disclose national defence information following WikiLeaks’ publication of hundreds of thousands of leaked documents relating to the Afghanistan and Iraq wars.

Julian Assange's partner Stella Moris reacts after the US government won its High Court appeal bid. Credit: PA

Mr Assange has denied wrongdoing and won support from human rights organisations across the world.

US authorities brought a High Court challenge against a January ruling by then-district judge Vanessa Baraitser that Assange should not be sent to the US, in which she cited a real and “oppressive” risk of suicide.

After a two-day hearing, the Lord Chief Justice Lord Burnett, sitting with Lord Justice Holroyde, ruled in favour of the US last year.

The senior judges found that Judge Baraitser had based her decision on the risk of Assange being held in highly restrictive prison conditions if extradited.

However, the US authorities later gave assurances that Assange would not face those strictest measures either pre-trial or post-conviction unless he committed an act in the future that required them.

Lord Burnett previously said that if the original judge had been given those assurances at the time of her ruling, “she would have answered the relevant question differently”.

Mr Assange's lawyers had sought to appeal against that decision at the Supreme Court, arguing it raises “serious and important” legal issues.

A bearded Julian Assange as seen in August 2015 as he marked three years inside the Ecuadorian embassy. Credit: PA Wire

In January, Lord Burnett, sitting with Lord Justice Holroyde, refused permission for the appeal, adding that the decision of whether to hear the appeal was up to the Supreme Court.

In her January 2021 ruling blocking the extradition, Judge Baraitser found in favour of the US on all issues except Assange’s mental health.

Assange has previously indicated that he wants to challenge the original judge’s other findings.

The outcome of the appeal decision comes the day after it was revealed Mr Assange would be allowed to wed behind bars.

Stella Moris will marry her fiance in Belmarsh Prison on March 23, just weeks before the third anniversary of his dramatic arrest.

Ms Moris told the PA news agency that just four guests and two witnesses will be allowed to attend the ceremony, as well as two security guards.

Celebrated British fashion designer Vivienne Westwood will design her wedding gown.

The couple managed to have two sons while Mr Assange took refuge in the embassy.

He had been a resident of the embassy for seven years from 2012, before his arrest.

The guests will have to leave immediately after the event, even though it is being held during normal visiting hours.

Julian Assange (centre) and his partner Stella Moris (second from right) Credit: Wikileaks/PA

Ms Moris, a lawyer, told PA over the weekend: “Obviously we are very excited, even though the circumstances are very restrictive.

“There continues to be unjustified interference in our plans. Having a photographer for an hour is not an unreasonable request.

“All the guests and witnesses must leave as soon as the ceremony is over, even though that will be before normal visiting time ends.

“Julian is looking forward to the wedding because it is finally happening, many months after we first made the request.”

Ms Moris, who spoke to Mr Assange on Sunday, added: “He is being held on behalf of a foreign power and has not been charged with anything, which is completely disgraceful.”