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What To Expect At Julian Assange’s Appeal Hearing On May 20

On Monday, May 20th, the UK High Court will decide whether Julian Assange will be allowed to appeal the decision allowing his extradition before the UK Courts. The High Court will first hear arguments from the defense and the prosecution regarding the “assurances” provided by the U.S.

Julian Assange’s final appeal hearing was held on February 20th​ and 21st​ this year, upon which the judges made a ruling on March 26th​, provisionally allowing Julian Assange to appeal the decision to extradite him to the U.S., but only if the U.S. doesn’t provide sufficient assurances that he will not be sentenced to death and that he will be allowed to rely on the First Amendment that is, his right to free speech.

On April 16th, the U.S. has issued a diplomatic note in which it gave a non-assurance in relation to the First Amendment, and a standard assurance in relation to the death penalty. On the matter of Julian Assange’s First Amendment rights, the U.S. has said that he could “seek to raise” them, i.e. argue that the rights should not be disallowed.​

Now, the High Court will convene again to hear defense and prosecution arguments regarding “assurances” provided by the U.S. and decide whether they are sufficient to allow Julian Assange’s immediate extradition.

If the High Court rules that the assurances are sufficient and rejects the appeal, that will be the end of the road for Julian Assange in the UK courts. The defense will then attempt to appeal to the European Court of Human Rights, though that is not guaranteed. If the High Court allows the appeal to go ahead, this will mean another British appeal process with the right to First Amendment protections at the heart of it.

Ahead of the hearing Amnesty International legal advisor Simon Crowther, who will attend on 20 May to monitor the proceedings, stated: “As the court reconvenes to determine Julian Assange’s fate, we repeat the enormous repercussions at stake if he is extradited to the USA: the risk that he would be subjected to human rights violations and the long-lasting damage that would be done to global media freedom.”

We will report on the proceedings here.

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