From the First Amendment to the European Convention on Human Rights, Assange’s defense relies on freedom of expression.

By Marjorie Cohn, TruthOut

On May 20, a two-judge panel of the High Court of England and Wales handed WikiLeaks founder and publisher Julian Assange a significant victory. Justice Jeremy Johnson and Dame Victoria Sharp granted him leave to appeal the U.K.’s extradition order on two grounds. The High Court will now schedule a hearing at which Assange will be allowed to argue that his rights to freedom of expression and to be free from discrimination based on his nationality would not be protected if he were extradited to the United States.

Supporters of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange take part in a protest against the NATO leaders summit in Brussels, Belgium June 13, 2021

In the U.K., the right to appeal is not automatic. While they didn’t rule on the merits of Assange’s claims, Johnson and Sharp determined that the two issues have sufficient legal merit to be reviewed by the High Court.

“I welcome the High Court’s decision to allow the case to proceed to a full appeal,” said Alice Jill Edwards, UN Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. “This is a terribly complex case, but at the heart of it are issues around human rights and values we hold as a society and the protections afforded to those who disclose potential war crimes.”

Speaking outside the courthouse after the May 20 hearing, Stella Assange, Julian’s wife, said the ruling “marks a turning point” and “we are relieved as a family that the court took the right decision. Everyone can see what should be done here. Julian must be freed,” adding, “This case is shameful and it is taking an enormous toll on Julian.”

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