A British appeals court handed the U.S. a major victory in its efforts to bring WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to trial, overturning a lower court ruling that blocked his extradition out of fear he would commit suicide while in a U.S. prison.
Two of Britain’s most senior judges found that the lower court’s judge made her decision based on risks to Assange’s mental health if placed under harsh confinement in the American prison system. The two-judge panel sided with the U.S. after receiving “assurances” that the 50-year-old wouldn’t face such measures.
The decision hands a major blow to Assange, paving the way for his extradition to the U.S. to face espionage charges. A lawyer for Assange called the ruling “highly disturbing” and said they intend to appeal.
“The U.K. court reached this decision without considering whether extradition is appropriate when the United States is pursuing charges against him that could result in decades in prison, based on his having reported truthful information about newsworthy issues such as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan,” said Barry Pollack, Assange’s U.S. lawyer.
“Mr. Assange will seek review of this decision by the U.K. Supreme Court.”