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Julian Assange: The situation at present

Free Assange Ireland

29 January 2022

Julian Assange fiancee Stella Moris speaking outside court after Monday's victory.

On Friday 28th January there was a zoom meeting organised by the Don’t Extradite Assange Campaign to bring supporters from throughout the world up-to-date with the legal situation in the case.  The two main speakers were Kristinn Hrafnsson, WikiLeaks editor-in-chief, and John Rees of Don’t Extradite Assange.

As people will remember a British lower court had decided not to extradite Julian on the basis that incarceration in the extremely harsh conditions of the US Supermax prison system would ultimately lead to his premature death through suicide. This verdict was successfully appealed to the High Court by the Biden administration.

The High Court’s overturning of this verdict was unprecedented, as it was justified on newly proffered US assurances that Julian would be treated fairly in the US. This was something that the US legal team had refused to countenance in the hearing of the lower court. These new assurances consisted of the following:

  • receiving medical treatment;
  • not being incarcerated in a Colorado Supermax jail;
  • and he could serve his sentence in his native Australia.
However: There is a clause linked to these “assurances” that the US can override them at anytime. As for Julian serving any jail sentence in Australia it could take between 10 and 15 years before his transfer would be authorised. In other words, these assurances are totally worthless. Indeed, it is extraordinary that in an appeal against the Lower Court’s verdict, the party appealing can radically alter its case fundamentally. The US in the first trial had completely refused to countenance giving assurances on Julain’s treatment. The fact that these “assurances” were accepted by the High Court  highlights again how political a trial this is and how biased and political the British judiciary has proved to be.

Question to the  Supreme Court

The High Court has now sent a specific question for to be considered by the Supreme Court. It is the nub of this absurd verdict:

Is it permisssable for the US to offer assurances to the High Court that it did not raise in the Lower Court?
It is now up to the Supreme Court to consider whether it wishes to examine this question. While Julian Assange’s support group is pleased that this question has been put to the Supreme Court they, because of how political this case has proved to be, are not over hopeful as to whether the Court will decide to examine the question and if it does what decision it will come to.

It could take the Supreme Court 3 to 4 months to come to a decision on this first issue and then another 4 months to reach a verdict. In all it could mean Assange will spend another year in the draconian conditions of the High Security Belmarsh prison. Kristinn Hrafnsson described this as “punishment by process”. And another contributor to the zoom – her name I didn’t hear - a lawyer with a knowledge of the British prison system, she compared Belmarsh to Guantanamo.


The legal team is considering seeking bail for Julian, although it is unlikely to be permitted. This leads to the need to raise this as a campaign issue. Julian has been over 1,000 days on remand. Imprisoned without ever having been convicted of any offence. The European Court of Human Rights has taken this issue up in other cases.

“Julian’s health is waning”

Julian during the High Court case suffered a mini-stroke, which is often a prelude to a full stroke. In other words, his life is in danger. The dropping of the charges would be the ideal solution but that is not likely to happen. So, an option might be to organise a campaign demanding bail for Julian.


If the Supreme Court decides to examine the question posed by the High Court  and in the end decides to extradite Julian Assange. The decision will be passed to the Home Secretary and if she decides to extradite then Assange’s lawyers have the possibility to lodge an appeal. It is at this stage of the process that the “Big Issues” around journalism, freedom of speech etc will come to the fore.


John Rees in his summing up made it crystal clear that there are serious concerns about judicial impartiality. Therefore if we are to get Julian Assange free from this living hell then we need a serious campaign outside the courts.

He also indicated that the view propagated by former CIA chief Mike Pompeo that WikiLeaks is a “Non-state Hostile Intelligence Service” has been “bleeding” into political culture and the role of journalism is being introduced into the New Official Secrets Act in Britain.

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