In January 2021, a UK district judge rejected a US request to extradite WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. The decision was based on a determination that the publisher was at too high a risk of suicide or self-harm if he were to be extradited to the US.
The United States has received “limited permission” to appeal a UK district judge’s decision that Julian Assange should not be extradited, WikiLeaks announced on Twitter on Wednesday.
The publication also cited Assange’s fiancée Stella Moris as saying: “The new revelations concerning the DoJ’s [Department of Justice] lead witness confirm what we all knew: that the case against Julian has been built on lies”.
The tweet comes days after Sigurdur Ingi Thordarson, a former WikiLeaks volunteer-turned-FBI informant, had admitted to fabricating crucial parts of the accusations in the indictment against Julian Assange, according to the Icelandic newspaper Stundin.
Thordarson confessed that he fabricated the claim that the WikiLeaks founder had instructed him to commit computer intrusions or hacking in Iceland.
“In fact, Thordarson now admits to Stundin that Assange never asked him to hack or access phone recordings of [Icelandic] MPs. His new claim is that he had in fact received some files from a third party who claimed to have recorded MPs and had offered to share them with Assange without having any idea what they actually contained. He claims he never checked the contents of the files or even if they contained audio recordings as his third party source suggested”, Stundin reported on Saturday.
The man, who is an Icelandic citizen, also provided Stundin with chat logs that date back to 2010 and 2011. According to the newspaper, none of the logs show that Thordarson was asked to turn to hackers by anyone inside WikiLeaks. Instead, the logs reflect Thordarson’s relentless attempts to inflate his position, as he described himself as chief of staff or head of communications.
In January 2021, District Judge Vanessa Baraitser ruled that Assange should not be extradited to the United States to face charges of espionage and conspiracy to commit digital intrusion because he is a suicide risk.
Judge Baraitser accepted that Assange, who is now incarcerated in HM Prison Belmarsh, would likely be subjected to high levels of isolation as well as special administrative measures both before and after trial in the US that would severely impact his mental health.
At the time, the US Justice Department expressed its frustration with the decision, vowing to keep seeking extradition.
“While we are extremely disappointed in the court’s ultimate decision, we are gratified that the United States prevailed on every point of law raised. In particular, the court rejected all of Mr Assange’s arguments regarding political motivation, political offence, fair trial, and freedom of speech”.
The WikiLeaks founder, who turned 50 on 3 July, was arrested in London on 11 April 2019, and sentenced to 50 weeks in prison for skipping bail back in 2012, when he took refuge inside the Ecuadorian Embassy in the UK capital to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he was facing sexual assault charges. The latter were subsequently dropped.
The Australian journalist is wanted by the US Justice Department on espionage and computer fraud charges after WikiLeaks published thousands of secret files and classified information that shed light on war crimes committed by US troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. He faces up to 175 years in solitary confinement inside a top security American prison if convicted in the US.