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US Assures Assange of No Death Penalty, Clearing Path for Extradition

The US government has provided assurances requested by the High Court in London, meaning Julian Assange’s one possible ground for appeal is negated.

The United States has submitted the assurances required by the High Court in London at its most recent hearing of the Julian Assange extradition case. These assurances include the right to free speech under the First Amendment as part of his defense, protection against prejudice due to his Australian citizenship, and a commitment to not impose the death penalty with any new charges.

Following this submission, the Court stated that it would only consider further submissions from Assange’s lawyers if the assurances were not provided. With these guarantees in place before the deadline on April 16, it seems that all grounds for appeal have been addressed, paving the way for a likely ruling in favor of the US Justice Department.

If extradited to the US, Mr. Assange, 52, would face 18 charges, most of which fall under the Espionage Act, related to WikiLeaks’ publication of confidential US military records and diplomatic cables.

First Amendment Defense at Whim of US Court

A document reviewed by Reuters states that Assange will be able to rely on the rights and protections of the First Amendment in his trial, although the ultimate decision on its applicability lies with the US courts. Additionally, the document assures that the death penalty will not be sought or imposed in his case.

Despite these assurances, there will be another court hearing in London on May 20, where Assange’s legal team is expected to argue against the credibility of US assurances, echoing concerns raised by human rights organizations like Amnesty International.

In response to the assurances, Assange’s wife, Stella, expressed dissatisfaction, calling them “blatant weasel words” that fail to address their concerns about his future and the potential consequences of his prosecution.

President Joe Biden has also emerged as a potential factor in Assange’s case, with recent remarks suggesting a willingness to consider requests from the Australian government to drop the prosecution. Discussions about a plea bargaining deal are reportedly underway.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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