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Crucial decision expected on extradition d’Assange

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Supporters of Julian Assange demonstrate their support outside the British Royal Courts of Justice in London on October 27, 2021. (Archive photo)

Agence France-Presse

Decisive day for Julian Assange: British justice will say on Tuesday whether it will grant the founder of WikiLeaks a last appeal against his extradition to the United States, where he risks 175 years in prison for leaks of confidential documents.

< p class="StyledBodyHtmlParagraph-sc-48221190-4 hnvfyV">The time for conclusion is perhaps approaching in this long-running affair, erected as a symbol of the threats weighing on press freedom.

Two judges at London's High Court, Victoria Sharp and Jeremy Johnson, must decide whether to grant the 52-year-old Australian the right to appeal against his extradition to the United States, which was accepted in June 2022 by the British government.

Their decision will be made public from 10:30 a.m. GMT (6:30 a.m. Montreal time).

In the event of defeat, Julian Assange could only appeal to the European Court of Human Rights in the hope of having the extradition suspended, but the deadlines promise to be very tight.< /p>LoadingThe transition in Haiti stumbles on disagreements between future leaders

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American justice is prosecuting Julian Assange for having published more than 700,000 confidential documents since 2010 on American military and diplomatic activities, particularly in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Among them is a video showing civilians, including two Reuters journalists, killed by fire from an American combat helicopter in Iraq in July 2007.

Julian Assange was arrested by British police in 2019 after seven years in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, in order to avoid extradition to Sweden in a investigation for rape, dismissed the same year.

Many voices have urged US President Joe Biden to drop the 18 charges against Mr Assange during Donald Trump's first term, under a 1917 espionage law.

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Julian Assange evacuated from the Ecuadorian embassy in London.

In recent weeks, those close to Julian Assange, detained for five years in the high security Belmarsh prison in London, have warned of the deterioration of his state of health.

His defense also highlights a risk of suicide in the event of extradition.

Suffering, he was absent from the February hearings, during which dozens of his supporters came to show their support.

During these two days of debates, Julian Assange's lawyers tried to convince the magistrates that these proceedings against him were political, and that extradition would put his health and even his life in danger.

The Australian is being prosecuted for ordinary journalistic practices consisting of obtaining and publishing information, argued his lawyer Edward Fitzgerald. His client faces a disproportionate sentence in the United States and there is a real risk that he will suffer a flagrant miscarriage of justice, he added.

Lawyer Clair Dobbin, who represents the American government, argued that Mr. Assange had indiscriminately and knowingly published the names of individuals who served as sources of information for the United States.

It is these facts that distinguish him (from other media), not his political opinions, he said. -she argues.

In January 2021, British justice initially ruled in favor of the founder of WikiLeaks. Citing a risk of suicide, judge Vanessa Baraitser refused to give the green light to extradition. But this decision was later overturned.

In an attempt to reassure him about the treatment that would be inflicted on him, the United States claimed that he would not be incarcerated at the high security ADX prison in Florence (Colorado), nicknamed the Alcatraz of the Rockies, and that he would receive the necessary clinical and psychological care.

The Americans had also raised the possibility that he could ask to serve his sentence in Australia.

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese recently denounced the prosecution of Mr. Assange by the American justice system, and the Australian Parliament adopted a motion calling for an end to it.

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