UK/USA: Long lasting damage to global media freedom as Julian Assange back in UK court ahead of possible extradition to USA

Amnesty International’s Legal Adviser, Simon Crowther, will attend Julian Assange’s next High Court hearing on 20 May, to monitor the proceedings as an expert legal observer. The outcome of the hearing will determine whether Julian Assange will have further opportunities to argue his case before the UK courts, or if he will have exhausted all appeals in the UK, leading to his extradition or an application to the European Court of Human Rights.

“As the court reconvenes to determine Julian Assange’s fate, we repeat the enormous repercussions at stake if he is extradited to the USA: the risk that he would be subjected to human rights violations and the long-lasting damage that would be done to global media freedom,” said Simon Crowther.

“If extradited, Assange potentially faces dozens of years of incarceration and the risk of prolonged solitary confinement in a maximum-security prison with poor health services. His safety and wellbeing simply cannot be guaranteed, just as the US has failed to respect the rights of tens of thousands of people currently imprisoned in the US. Assange has already spent five years in prison in the UK, much of which has been arbitrary.

“The authorities in the US seem hell-bent on making an example of Assange for exposing their alleged war crimes, rather than upholding the values of freedom of expression. Receiving sensitive government information from outside sources and publishing it in the public interest is not a crime. These are fundamental activities to the work of journalists and publishers. The public has an absolute right to know if their government is breaking international law. The USA must drop all the charges against Assange and the UK must halt the extradition proceedings, which will allow for his prompt release from UK state custody.”


Following the adjournment of court on 26 March, the High Court in the UK has confirmed a hearing on 20 May, having received renewed diplomatic assurances from the USA on 16 April.

On 3 May, Amnesty International issued a public statement on the importance of open justice and trial monitors’ access to Julian Assange’s hearings.