Extradition delayed: hope for Assange?

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange may not be extradited to the US for the time being. The judges at London's High Court have given the US authorities three weeks to guarantee that Assange can assert his right to freedom of expression enshrined in the US constitution and that the death penalty will not be imposed. Commentators assess the decision also against the backdrop of the upcoming US elections.

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The Independent (GB) /

Enough is enough

The Independent has a clear answer to the question of whether Assange should be extradited to the US:

“Imagine another scenario. An American journalist, based in London, starts digging into, say, the Indian nuclear weapons programme. Her reports clearly breach that country's 1923 official secrets act. India wants to prosecute her and, hopefully, jail her for a long time - pour decourager les autres. Can you imagine any circumstances in which that American journalist would be bundled on an Air India flight to Delhi? Of course not: no American government would countenance it. ... Enough is enough. Set him free.”

Le Temps (CH) /

Not a defender of democracy

Assange is not innocent, Le Temps stresses:

“His lawyer criticises the fact that his client is being prosecuted for 'ordinary journalistic practices'. Is that really the case? ... It is undeniable that his platform contributed to publicising the horrors of the US war in Iraq. But the Australian has not always been intent on setting himself up as a defender of democracy. ... WikiLeaks and the Russian military intelligence service GRU worked closely together to disrupt the election campaign of Democrat Hillary Clinton - a 'devil' - who ran against Donald Trump. In that case Julian Assange undermined a presidential election with the help of Vladimir Putin's Russia. ... Today, with Donald Trump's comeback, we can take full stock of the damage done.”

Corriere della Sera (IT) /

Deal before the US elections better for everyone

There could be a deal, Corriere della Sera suspects:

“This decision hits the ball back into Washington's court and could be in line with the rumours that the Wall Street Journal has spread in recent weeks about a deal between Assange's legal team and the White House. ... It is certainly undesirable for Joe Biden's administration to set up further fronts of controversy by putting Assange on trial, who is a champion of press freedom for a segment of the Western public. And for Assange himself, it would be better to reach an agreement before the US elections.”

Diena (LV) /

A procedural delay is desirable

This is a chance for Assange, says Diena:

“According to the ruling, the US authorities must provide the court with suitable assurances that, for example, he won't be sentenced to death within three weeks. ... If the assurances are not submitted, Assange can apply again for the extradition request to be denied, which would also mean his release. On view of the fact that the US presidential election is approaching and Assange has a large number of supporters, especially among Democratic voters, President Joe Biden's administration might miss the deadline for filing the required documents or find reasons why it is impossible. ... That would be a pretty reasonable compromise.”

Kleine Zeitung (AT) /

Alleged US war crimes remain uninvestigated

The Kleine Zeitung would like to see vehement action against others, not Assange:

“Assange, who exposed alleged US war crimes with WikiLeaks, is vegetating in Belmarsh maximum security prison. Above him hovers the sword of Damocles of extradition and 175 years in prison in the United States. When discussing the Australian's case, we must also talk about freedom of expression and freedom of the press: the US condemns Assange's admittedly uncompromising struggle for truth as treason. WikiLeaks uncovered inhumane practices by the US army, and Assange has been hunted ever since. But where is the wide-ranging legal review of the alleged war crimes?”