Julian Assange Put Lives at Risk by Publishing Secrets – US

Julian Assange is accused of endangering lives by publishing classified US documents and should be sent for trial, according to a High Court hearing.

According to US lawyers, Mr. Assange disclosed the names of sources by releasing unredacted files on the Afghanistan and Iraq wars through Wikileaks.

The hearing marks the most recent development in his ongoing five-year struggle to resist extradition.

His lawyers argued that the US case was a form of state retaliation, making extradition against UK law.

If his appeal is rejected, Mr. Assange, 52, may face extradition in a matter of weeks.

The US legal team informed the court that Mr. Assange is accused of aiding and abetting Chelsea Manning, a US intelligence analyst, in obtaining approximately 400,000 Iraq war-related activity reports and 250,000 US State Department cables.

Several documents were released without any redactions via WikiLeaks.

Clair Dobbin KC stated that the extradition and prosecution of Mr. Assange, the founder of Wikileaks, were motivated by his alleged actions rather than his political beliefs.

She mentioned significant repercussions, as individuals identified in the documents risked arrest, asset loss, threats, and harassment for providing information to the US.

“This wasn’t a slip, or an error, this was the publication of a vast amount of material unredacted,” Ms Dobbin stated during the hearing.

Ms Dobbin and James Lewis KC referred to the leak as “one of the largest compromises of classified information in the history of the United States” in their written submissions.

“The appellant is accused of creating a serious risk of physical harm to the human sources named by publishing the information on the WikiLeaks website.”

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Ms Dobbin noted that the administration in the US changed during the proceedings, but the prosecution of the appellant continues. It is grounded in law and evidence, not political influence.”

This is the most recent effort by Australian Mr. Assange to resist his extradition to the US.

He has been detained in Belmarsh prison in London since his arrest in 2019 at the behest of US authorities.

Following a ruling in January 2021, a district judge stated that Mr. Assange should not be extradited to the US due to a significant risk of suicide.

Nevertheless, the judge decided against him on all other matters, including the claim that he was functioning as a journalist.

Later that year, the US authorities successfully appealed a High Court ruling, leading to the possibility of extradition to face conspiracy charges.

The most recent development involves Mr. Assange, who is currently seeking permission to contest the initial judge’s decision to dismiss other aspects of his case.

Ms Dobbin stated on Tuesday, the initial day of the hearing, that the original judge completely dismissed the idea that Mr Assange should be considered a journalist or that his actions could be classified as responsible journalism.

“Political incentives”

Mark Summers KC argued on Tuesday that the US prosecution of Mr Assange would be retribution for his political opinions, suggesting it would be unlawful to extradite him under UK law.

He stated that this situation exemplifies state retaliation for expressing a political viewpoint. The district judge failed to address it, and if she had, it would have been detrimental to her decision.

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Mr Summers later informed the court that the US authorities had reportedly devised a remarkable plan to either eliminate or abduct Mr Assange while he was in the Ecuadorian embassy, where he stayed for approximately seven years.

According to the barrister, the plan unravelled because the UK authorities were not enthusiastic about the idea of rendition or a shootout in London.

Edward Fitzgerald KC, who also represents Mr Assange, later stated that he is being prosecuted for what he considers a standard journalistic practice.

The hearing before Dame Victoria Sharp and Mr Justice Johnson is set to conclude on Wednesday with their decision on whether Mr Assange can bring the appeal anticipated at a later date.

If Mr Assange is convicted, he could potentially spend up to five years in a US prison for the charge of conspiracy to commit computer intrusion.

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