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(LONDON) High Court Report: Julian Assange Trial: US government promises that Julian Assange would not face harsh prison conditions if he was extradited to the United States are not enough to address concerns about his fragile mental health and high risk of suicide, his lawyer has told at the court #AceNewsDesk report

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#AceNewsReport – Oct.02: During a two-day hearing in Britain’s High Court, Mr Assange’s lawyer Edward Fitzgerald said the WikiLeaks founder was too mentally ill to be extradited to the United States to face trial on espionage charges: District Judge Vanessa Baraitser found Mr Assange was likely to kill himself if held under harsh US prison conditions.

#AceDailyNews says according to ABC News & Media Assange lawyer dismisses US extradition promise over mental health concerns as Washington is seeking to overturn an earlier ruling from a lower British court, which refused a US request to extradite Mr Assange over WikiLeaks’ publication of secret American military documents a decade ago.

Protestors in front of church carry placards and signs in support of Julian Assange
The US is appealing a British court ruling that Mr Assange should not be extradited because of his mental health. (Reuters: Henry Nicholls)

On Wednesday, a lawyer for the US government told the British High Court American authorities had promised Mr Assange would not be subject to strict detention conditions, known as Special Administrative Measures (SAMs), or be held at the ADX Florence maximum security federal prison in Colorado.

He also said that if convicted, Mr Assange would be allowed to serve his sentence in Australia.

Julian Assange looks to the camera as he is photographed from behind glass with graffiti etched into it. His grey hair is back.
Mr Assange’s lawyers have urged the High Court to consider whether US authorities were likely to stick to their assurances. (Reuters: Simon Dawson)

Court urged to question ‘meaningless’ assurances amid CIA allegations

But Mr Fitzgerald argued US assurances were all “caveated, vague or simply ineffective”.

They do not remove the risk of Assange being detained in extreme isolation in the US in the long term, he said, and the risk of Mr Assange killing himself remained substantial if he was extradited.

“It is perfectly reasonable to find it oppressive to extradite a mentally disordered person because his extradition is likely to result in his death,” he said.

He added that judges should use their power to “protect people from extradition to a foreign state where we have no control over what will be done to them”.

In a written submission, Mr Fitzgerald also said the assurance Mr Assange could be transferred to an Australian prison if convicted was “meaningless”.

Australia has not indicated its consent and the process could take a decade or more, he argued.

Mr Assange’s defence team also referred to recent allegations the CIA and US government had considered plans to “seriously harm” him — including alleged discussions to “kidnap or poison” him while he was inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London.

His lawyers urged the court to consider whether US authorities were likely to stick to their assurances in light of the claims.

A woman in a red coat walks next to a man in a blue suit jacket
Julian Assange’s partner Stella Morris has called on Mr Assange to be freed. (AP:David Cliff)

Court ruling not expected for weeks

American prosecutors have indicted the WikiLeaks founder on 17 espionage charges and one charge of computer misuse over WikiLeaks’s publication of thousands of leaked military and diplomatic documents.

The charges carry a maximum sentence of 175 years in prison, though a lawyer for the US government said the sentence could be much shorter.

Mr Assange, 50, is currently being held at London’s high-security Belmarsh Prison.

He did not attend the hearing on Thursday, although on Wednesday he appeared by video link at times.

The two-day appeal hearing before two judges, including England’s most senior judge Lord Chief Justice Ian Burnett, concluded on Thursday but a ruling on the appeal is not expected for weeks.

The losing side could seek to appeal to Britain’s Supreme Court.

ABC/wires

#AceNewsDesk report …………Published: Nov.02: 2021:

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