Skip to content

UK court rules that Julian Assange can be extradited to the USA

The UK Court has ruled extradition for Julian Assange. Learn more about this case and the leading barristers involved in the case and in the area of extradition.

Published on 15 December 2021
Written by Eleanor Crundwell
Eleanor Crundwell

What is Julian Assange accused of doing?

The US Government has won its bid for Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, to be extradited to the USA after a previous ruling blocking his extradition was overturned by the UK courts. Assange is wanted in America on charges of espionage in connection with the publication of hundreds of thousands of confidential documents relating to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and has been fighting his extradition to the USA since May 2019.

Julian Assange can be extradited to US to face charges

Several issues have been raised in connection with Assange's proposed extradition to the USA, including the question of whether his mental condition prevented his extradition under section 91 of the Extradition Act 2003. In January 2021 a District Judge decided that Assange could not be extradited due to concerns for his mental health, ruling that it would be oppressive to extradite Mr Assange due to the restrictive conditions in which he was likely to be detained in the USA.

In December 2021, the High Court overturned this judgment when James Lewis KC of 3 Raymond Buildings, acting for the USA, successfully argued that the US Government has given assurances regarding the treatment of Assange while he is custody in America, promising that he will not be held in harsh conditions.

These assurances include that he will not be sent to a supermax prison and will not be held in solitary confinement before or after trial, so long as he does not commit any further criminal offences. The US Government has also agreed that if Assange is convicted, it will consent to an application for Assange to serve his sentence in Australia rather than the USA.

Who was the KC acting for Julian Assange?

Edward Fitzgerald KC of Doughty Street Chambers acted for Julian Assange, and argued that the assurances provided by the USA were all caveated, vague, or simply ineffective. It is likely that Assange and his legal team will seek an appeal.

For more information about Edward Fitzgerald KC, James Lewis KC and other leading barristers in this field, our Extradition rankings are available here.

uk bar

Chambers UK Bar

Visit the Chambers UK Bar guide page to view our rankings, gain insights into the guide, overviews and more.