The USA wants to put the founder of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, on trial on espionage charges and demanded his extradition. However, on May 20, the London High Court ruled that the 52-year-old information activist may appeal against his extradition to the USA. The court had initially postponed this decision on March 26 and demanded assurances from the USA that the death penalty would not be applied and that Assange would be able to invoke freedom of expression.

US assurances are not sufficient

Although US President Joe Biden has indicated that the US would "consider" dropping the prosecution of Assange, the subsequent concrete assurances from the US government were ultimately not convincing or sufficient for the British court. Due to these doubts, the court granted Assange's appeal in part and thus rejected direct extradition to the USA.

"Milestone for transparency and press freedom"

So far, there has been no reaction from government representatives. Assange's supporters, on the other hand, rejoiced immediately after the decision at the court in London. While the editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks has already spoken of a "victory" and Assange's wife Stella Assange of a "turning point", Assange supporter and Pirate Party MEP Dr. Patrick Breyer described the court decision as a "milestone for transparency and freedom of the press".

Today's court decision gives hope that European human rights and courts will protect the exposure of injustice, abuse of power, corruption and war crimes without applying double standards to friend and foe. I hope that the deterrence of whistleblowers and journalists worldwide intended by the USA will become their encouragement through a landmark ruling.
Dr. Patrick Breyer at ­ŁĽĆ

It remains to be seen whether this stage victory really represents a turning point in the Assange case. He still faces up to 175 years in prison in the USA or even worse. The date for the full appeal proceedings, in which Assange will be allowed to present his arguments against extradition in detail, has not yet been set. Until then, Assange will have to continue to wait in Belmarsh maximum security prison. It is difficult to imagine how more than five years in solitary confinement and over a decade of deprivation of liberty can affect a person's mental and physical condition. It remains to be hoped that Assange will finally regain his freedom through the appeal process.