The battle for the extradition of Julian Assange to the United States continues, after a British court considered on Wednesday that his mental health is not so bad that he cannot face a judicial process on the other side of the Atlantic. The High Court thus provides a significant oxygen balloon to the US determination to put the founder of Wikileaks in the dock on charges of espionage and computer hacking, since it openly defies the ruling that, last June, had rejected the lawsuit. Washington for the risk of suicide, if it were turned over to the US authorities.
As a consequence, the victory that Assange scored two months ago has been neutralized today in a hearing that should be enough to disturb the founder of Wikileaks, since the same judge who blocked his extradition in June had supported, in parallel, the opinion of the United States. United that their activities went beyond the mere exercise of journalism. This coincidence of views was already a lethal weapon for Assange at that time, since it questioned the fundamental argument of his lawyers, who insist that he is being punished for his work as a journalist.
The dispute dates back to November 2010, with the publication of the controversial cables sent to the US State Department, considered to be the largest leak of confidential documents ever perpetrated. The United States accuses Assange, among other charges, of having helped defense analyst Chelsea Manning to violate the Espionage Act and of publishing classified information that put the lives of informants at risk. The accused, for his part, maintains that the charges are politically motivated, since the material revealed the extent of human rights abuses by the US Administration.
Until now, the most realistic hope for Assange was based on the credit that Judge Vanessa Baraitser had given to the psychiatric report that warned of the dire consequences of sending him to the United States for a trial that, according to his defense, would not be fair. In fact, the magistrate’s opinion that the only barrier that should prevent Assange’s surrender was his health, and not what would await him in a process before the US justice, had already generated considerable controversy and, to the frustration of his team legal, this day has been called into question.
In the opinion of Judge Timothy Holroyde, too much importance had been attached to the psychiatric opinion, so the key to the dispute now centers on the dossier presented by Professor Michael Kopelman, who maintained that Assange would take his life if his extradition were accepted . The main problem that the judges now see is that the report ignores the fact that the defendant had two children with his fiancée during the seven years of forced self-exile that he had spent in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. His isolation came to an abrupt end in April 2019, when he was evicted against his will, after the then president of the South American country, Lenín Moreno, canceled the coverage offered by his predecessor, Rafael Correa, to the founder of Wikileaks.
His paternity had been precisely the most important factor used by Assange to request his release on bail, an argument repeatedly used by his partner, Stella Moris, who has gone directly to the White House to beg that his two be allowed. children, aged four and two, “have their father.” Their requests were rejected and the founder of Wikileaks remains in the London prison of Belmarsh, due, in part, to the risk of escape detected by the British judges.
Ultimately, the debate will be settled based on who is able to convince of the authenticity of Kopelman’s conclusions. For the prosecution, there is no doubt that the expert had confused Judge Baraitser, to the point of oversizing her opinion; While Assange’s defense considers that if someone is in a position to evaluate the facts, that is precisely the judge who had heard all the evidence related to the case.
This day, the balance has turned in favor of the North American vision, since the magistrate considered that it was, “at least, justifiable” that Baraitser had given too much importance to the opinion of the forensic expert; and the prosecution did not miss an opportunity to reiterate that Assange’s mental health does not meet the minimum required by law to prevent extradition.