The US government’s appeal to extradite WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange was granted by the UK High Court, paving the way for his eventual espionage trial on American soil.
A district judge in January refused the US extradition request, noting the publisher’s delicate mental state and the risk that he might commit suicide if he had been subjected to harsh jail circumstances in the US.
The decision of the High Court is not final because it can be challenged. Stella Moris, Assange’s fiancee, branded the judgment “a tragic miscarriage of justice.” The case has been remanded to the Westminster Magistrates Court for further proceedings.
The High Court said it was satisfied with the US lawyer’s assurances that the so-called Special Administrative Measures (SAMs) would not be applied to Assange when in US custody. An earlier refusal to extradite him was partially justified by the fact that he could be subjected to SAMs. The US team argued during appeal hearings that if the American side knew it was an issue, they would have offered assurances to the contrary during the original process.
SAMs are special restrictions that the US prison system may order for inmates deemed to be dangerous. They include isolation from other prisoners at a maximum security facility. Critics say they are dehumanizing and in some cases may amount to psychological torture.