Friday, 29 October 2021 06:24

Assange appeal outcome awaited, US lawyers mum on alleged CIA plot Featured

Assange appeal outcome awaited, US lawyers mum on alleged CIA plot Courtesy YouTube

Lawyers pushing to overturn a British verdict to deny the extradition of WikiLeaks founder and publisher Julian Assange to the US have avoided any mention of a report that the CIA planned to kill him in 2017, during the two-day appeal that ended on Thursday.

Appearing for the American side, James Lewis QC said four assurances had been given, including that Assange could be moved to an Australian prison to serve any prison term he was given.

On 4 January, British District Judge Vanessa Baraister ruled that Assange should not be extradited, saying the risk he would commit suicide in a US jail were too high.

Lewis claimed the verdict was based on the assumption that Assange would be subjected to what are known as Special Administrative Measures and held at the ADX Florence Supermax jail. The four assurances given changed the basis of the judgment, he said.

The Court of Appeal, comprising Lord Chief Justice Lord Burnett, sitting with Lord Justice Holroyde, said it would issue its verdict later as lawyers had given them "much to think about".

Assange's lawyers told the court that American assurances about Assange's treatment, were he to be extradited, should be disregarded as they would not prevent him committing suicide.

They said even though the US side said Assange would not be subjected to SAMs, he could be held in extreme isolation which could cause him to take his own life.

One of his lawyers, Mark Summers, said the CIA could use its powers to ensure that Assange was subject to SAMs after he was in American hands, and the wording of the assurances given by the US lawyers did not rule out this happening.

The report, which was published by Yahoo! News in September, said the American spy agency was angry about the leak of some of its hacking tools that year, which the whistleblower organisation called Vault 7.

The Yahoo! News story said the drive to act against Assange came after the appointment of Mike Pompeo as CIA director.

Assange faces criminal charges for publishing classified information that was leaked to WikiLeaks by an American soldier, then known as Bradley Manning, but now, after gender reassignment surgery, known as Chelsea Manning.

He was arrested by British police on 11 April 2019 and removed from the Ecuador embassy where he had taken refuge. His asylum was withdrawn shortly before he was arrested and he appeared in court shortly thereafter. The US made a formal request for his extradition on 6 June 2019.

The Australian, 50, one of the better known hackers his country has produced, is being held at Belmarsh Prison in the UK.

In 2018, the US gave up appealing a decision by a court in the UK to oppose the extradition of British security researcher Lauri Love to the US to face charges of allegedly breaching the computer networks of a number of federal government agencies.

And another British hacker, Gary McKinnon, was not extradited for accessing US Government computers in 2012, after a 10-year legal battle, because he was considered to be “seriously ill”.

Former British prime minister Theresa May, who was home secretary at the time, made the decision not to extradite McKinnon.

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Sam Varghese

Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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