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Wikileaks’ Founder Julian Assange, Faces Extradition to the United States on Espionage Charges

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Assange faces 18 counts of  Illegally Obtaining and Circulating Classified Information 

Neanta Parnell - July 4, 2022

Julian Assange, an Australian editor, publisher, activist, and founder of Wikileaks; a nonprofit online organization of classified media, faces extradition to the United States on espionage charges. In May of 2019, Assange was charged with one of the greatest compromises of classified information in U.S. history; leaking media concerning U.S. war crimes in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. The media leaked involve U.S. military killing hundreds of civilians in Afghanistan and torturing prisoners in Iraq. The U.S. government continues to request Assange’s extradition; relinquishment of Assange from the United Kingdom to the U.S., to face his charges. 


The Beginning of Assange’s Complex Legal Troubles


Assange’s legal troubles began in 2010 - 2011 where Assange was charged with sexual assault in Sweden. Although Assange maintained innocence, he lost his case and fled to the Ecuadorian Embassy in London for fear his human rights may be violated if extradited to Sweden. In 2012, Ecuador granted Assange citizenship and safety at the embassy in London, where he stayed for seven years. 


During his stay at the embassy, Assange’s charges in Sweden were dropped because they were unable to continue questioning him under his Ecuadorian protection. In 2018, Assange’s relationship with Ecuador quickly became strained as he claimed house rules at the embassy violated his rights and freedoms, all while the United Kingdom and Ecuador discussed his fate. 


The relationship between Assange and the Ecuadorian government came to an end when Lenin Moreno, president of Ecuador, had his private information leaked by an anonymous user on Wikileaks. Said information, referred to as “INA papers”, implicated Moreno in planning to sell Assange to the U.S. for debt relief. Assange, in tandem with Wikileaks, was accused of collaborating to destabilize the nation’s government. 


Interior Minister of Ecuadorian Affairs; Maria Paula Romo, told reporters that Assange, Wikileaks, and Swedish software developer, Ola Bini,  were involved in spreading misinformation that implicated Moreno of corruption. Assange’s Ecuadorian protection was therefore revoked in 2019 and U.K. officials arrested him at the embassy on charges of breaching the British 1976 Bail Act and 18 counts of espionage and computer hacking by the U.S. government. 


U.S. Charges against Assange and Recent Developments in his Case


Assange has been fighting his extradition to the U.S. since 2019. The U.S. government accused him of conspiring with former army intelligence analyst; Chealsea Manning, to leak classified information in 18 counts. Assange’s crimes call for approximately 170 years in prison; however, the American government claims to only subject him to 4 to 6 years of imprisonment. Additionally, the U.S. raised no legal concerns about Assange’s treatment while in prison; however, the U.K. did not follow through with extradition due to Assange's failing mental health. Assange is using this time to appeal his extradition with the High Court in London. Assange’s fate lies within the decision of the High Court. 


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Tags: Freedom of Speech High Court of London Wikileaks Espionage Julian Assange Chelsea Manning


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