The British High Court has ruled that the founder of Wikileaks, Julian Assange, can be extradited to the United States to face charges of violating the American Espionage Act.
The ruling opens the possibility that Assange could be turned over to U.S. Marshals and brought to the United States to face charges in Northern Virginia.
Julian Assange was arrested at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London in April of 2019.
Assange had been living in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London since 2012. The Ecuadorian government granted the WikiLeaks founder asylum to avoid extradition to Sweden over a sexual assault case which was eventually dropped.
He was arrested by London police and immediately found guilty of failing to surrender to the court.
Assange is a controversial figure. Some view him as a hero for exposing government lies and deceptions, while others accuse him of being a traitor.
He could be extradited to the United States for charges of conspiracy to commit computer intrusion for helping former U.S. Army intelligence officer Chelsea Manning (formerly Bradley Manning) to hack into computers of the defense department in 2010.
Chelsea Manning was convicted of violating the Espionage Act and served seven years in prison after the intelligence officer leaked thousands of classified documents revealing information about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Assange and Manning were trying to prove that the U.S committed war crimes in the two countries.
The founder of WikiLeaks also made news in 2016 for releasing hacked emails from the DNC and Hillary Clinton campaign that he allegedly received from Russian officials.
Groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) support him. They voiced their displeasure following his 2019 arrest in a statement: “Any prosecution by the United States of Mr. Assange for WikiLeaks publishing operations would be unprecedented and unconstitutional and would open the door to criminal investigations of the other news organizations.”
The statement continued: “Prosecuting a foreign publisher for violating U.S. secrecy laws would set an especially dangerous precedent for U.S. journalists, who routinely violate foreign secrecy laws to deliver information vital to the public’s interest.”
There are those on the libertarian wing of the Republican party who support him, as well. In fact, Assange is a big fan of theirs as well.
He endorsed the libertarian side of the party when he said: “The Republican Party, in so far as how it has coupled together with the war industry, is not a conservative party at all, and the libertarian aspect of the Republican Party is presently the only useful political voice in the U.S. Congress.”
Judge Andrew Napolitano called him a “hero.” The judge said, “I have to tell you, in my opinion, Julian Assange is a hero. What he published was truthful information that the American public and the world had the right to see.”
Then there is the other side of the Assange debate. There are many who believe Assange is a villain who should be prosecuted for his actions. They argue that national security is threatened by people like Assange and a proven leaker, Edward Snowden.
One of the proponents of this view is the former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich. Appearing on Fox News in April of 2019, Gingrich expressed his opposition to Assange on national security grounds by saying, “If you violate our secrets, if you endanger our national security, if you put the country at risk, we’re going to come after you until we get you.”
It is still to be determined if Assange will indeed be extradited to the United States.