District Judge Vanessa Baraitser will deliver the verdict on Monday at 10 a.m at London’s Old Bailey Courthouse. And in case she allows the extradition request then the matter will be directed to Priti Patel, the United Kingdom’s Home Secretary, to make the final decision.
However, no matter the decision, any side that loses is expected to appeal, which will drag the case for some years.
In addition, outside forces are expected to play a significant role in determining this case.
Assange’s partner, Stella Moris, who is also the mother of his two sons, appealed to President Trump on Twitter to pardon Assange before leaving the office on Jan.20. The Anonymous collective has also played a role in trying to free Assange, with hashtags on Twitter such as #FreeAssange, #FreeAssangeNOW, #WeAreAllAssange, and #CloversForAssange.
However, even If President Trump doesn’t, there are speculations that his successor, Joe Biden, maybe more lenient on the extradition process of Assange.
According to the U.S. prosecutors, Assange committed 17 espionage crimes, and one computer misuse crime, and both crimes carry an imprisonment sentence of 175 years.
The U.S. government lawyers on their closing arguments stated that Assange’s defense team raised issues that were neither admissible nor relevant.
On the other hand, Assange’s defense argued that their client’s entitled to First Amendment protections for exposing the U.S. military’s wrongdoings in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the extradition request is purely political malice.
Besides, the defense lawyers also stated that their client suffers from various mental health-related issues such as suicidal tendencies which can be exacerbated If placed in the U.S’s inhospitable prison conditions.
The lawyers said that their client’s mental health worsened when Assange took asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. And also they said that Assange had been diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. In 2012, Assange jumped bail and stayed inside the Ecuadorian Embassy that is based in London for seven years. In 2019, Assange was evicted and arrested, and since April 2019, he has been staying in London’s Belmarsh Prison.
“Consistently, the defense asks this court to make findings, or act upon the submission, that the United States of America is guilty of torture, war crimes, murder, breaches of diplomatic and international law and that the United States of America is a lawless state’,” they said. “These submissions are not only non-justiciable in these proceedings but should never have been made.”
The defense team went further to argue that If their client is extradited, chances of being confined in solitary confinement are high, hence, heightening suicidal thoughts and attempts. And If their client is convicted, chances of being sent to the notorious ADX Supermax prison which hosts Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman and Unabomber Ted Kaczynski are very high.
But the U.S. government lawyers said that the mental health of Assange “are not enough reasons for him not to be extradited.”
Assange has attracted high profile figures’ support such as actress Pamela Anderson, dissident Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, famous U.S. whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg.
There’s an exact comparison between Assange and Elsberg, like Assange, Ellsberg is credited for helping to bring to an end the Vietnam War by leaking the Pentagon Papers in 1971. In the revelations, the 89-years said the American public should know what was done routinely in their name, and there is no other way they will know besides the unauthorized disclosure.
Ellsberg’s 7,000 pages of various documents made him put on trial for 12 different espionage crimes worth 115 years of imprisonment. But in 1973, the charges were dismissed due to the government’s misconduct against him.
Kyle James Lee – The AEGIS Alliance – This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.