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UK: Supreme Court refusal to grant Assange appeal a 'blow to justice'

 

Responding to the Supreme Court’s decision to refuse Julian Assange permission to appeal against the previous High Court ruling permitting his extradition, Amnesty International’s Deputy Research Director for Europe Julia Hall, said:

“Today’s decision is a blow to Julian Assange and to justice. The Supreme Court has missed an opportunity to clarify the UK’s acceptance of deeply flawed diplomatic assurances against torture. Such assurances are inherently unreliable and leave people at risk of severe abuse upon extradition or other transfer. 

Prolonged solitary confinement is a key feature of life for many people in US maximum security prisons and amounts to torture or other ill treatment under international law. The ban on torture and other ill-treatment is absolute and empty promises of fair treatment such as those offered by the USA in the Assange case threaten to profoundly undermine that international prohibition.

“The refusal is also bad news for press freedom since it leaves intact the nefarious route the US has employed to attempt to prosecute publishers for espionage. Demanding that states like the UK extradite people for publishing classified information that is in the public interest sets a dangerous precedent and must be rejected. The US should immediately drop the charges against Julian Assange.”

Unreliable assurances

The High Court ruled in December 2021 that Assange could be extradited, based on alleged US promises to safeguard him in prison. The US had submitted written assurances that, if extradited, Assange would not be placed in a maximum-security prison or subjected to special administrative measures (including prolonged solitary confinement, which can amount to torture or other ill-treatment under international law); and would receive adequate health care.

But the US included a caveat: if Assange did something in the future that required him to be subjected to special administrative measures or placed in a maximum-security prison, then it reserved the right to do so.  

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