At a hearing in London on Wednesday, the High Court ruled that Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder, can be extradited to the United States for criminal charges. The court ruled, however, that Mr. Assange should not be extradited to the United States unless it was determined that he would face the death penalty if he was convicted.
The ruling follows a ruling by the Supreme Court last year that Mr. Assange had the right to appeal his extradition to the U.S. The Supreme Court’s ruling cleared the way for his extradition to the U.S.
In April 2017, Mr. Assange’s lawyers said that if he were extradited to the U.S., he would be the subject of “draconian, inhumane and degrading treatment” and would face charges including espionage and rape. At that time, U.S. special counsel Robert Mueller indicted 14 Russians and three Russian companies on charges related to meddling in the 2016 U.S. election.
In the past, Mr. Assange has said that he believes that the U.S. is targeting him, given his role as the editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks, for publishing classified information.
In the months after the Supreme Court’s decision last year, Mr. Assange remained inside the Ecuadorean embassy in London to avoid extradition to the U.S. His current location is unclear. The Ecuadorean government has suggested it will put him on a plane to the U.S. if a deal cannot be made, but Mr. Assange has previously suggested that he is unwilling to leave the embassy, fearing that a U.S. attempt to arrest him would lead to his assassination. Mr. Assange originally fled to the embassy in 2012 to avoid being extradited to Sweden over allegations of sexual assault, allegations he has always denied. Last year, after weeks of back-and-forth negotiations between the U.K. and Ecuador over Mr. Assange’s asylum, a Swedish case was dropped.
On Thursday, Mr. Assange’s lawyers said they will appeal Wednesday’s ruling. The case may be appealed to the U.K. Supreme Court.