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Assange wins appeal against extradition ruling

JULIAN ASSANGE can appeal against the decision to grant his extradition to the United States, the High Court ruled today.

The WikiLeaks founder faces 18 charges in the US relating to the leaking and publication of the Iraq and Afghan war logs in 2010. 

During a two-day hearing in February, lawyers for the 52-year-old asked for permission to challenge a previous judge’s dismissal of his case against extradition.

Dame Victoria Sharp and Mr Justice Johnson rejected most of Mr Assange’s legal arguments but deferred their final decision.

They added that unless “satisfactory” assurances were given by the US, he would be able to bring an appeal on three grounds.

Those assurances were that Mr Assange would be protected by and allowed to rely on the US constitution’s first amendment  — which protects freedom of speech — that he would not be “prejudiced at trial” by his nationality and that the death penalty would not be imposed.

At today’s hearing, the two judges granted permission for the challenge on the freedom of speech and nationality points, meaning Mr Assange will be able to bring an appeal.

Hundreds of people had gathered outside the hearing, with supporters cheering and drumming as news of the decision filtered out of the courtroom.

Mr Assange had been given the option of attending the hearing in person, the court heard, but he was too unwell to either make the journey or join by video link.

Speaking after the hearing, his wife Stella Assange said that the judges had “reached the right decision” and called on the US to drop the “shameful” case.

She said: “I spoke to Julian after we got the decision. He was able to take a walk in the sun after the first bit of good news for a long time. 

“The US administration should take this as a moment to drop the case and distance itself from the terrible prosecution.”

International Federation of Journalists president Dominque Pradalie, who was in court to hear its decision, said: “This is a great moment for common sense and the rule of law. 

“Julian Assange is being persecuted; the sooner these proceedings come to an end, the better.”

National Union of Journalists general secretary Michelle Stanistreet said: “The charges against Assange are clearly for journalistic work  — his prosecution endangers reporters everywhere. 

“Only when this prosecution is dropped will this threat to free speech be brought to an end.”

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