By JILL LAWLESS
LONDON (AP) — A British judge has rejected the latest attempt by WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to fight extradition to the United States to face spying charges.
High Court justice Jonathan Swift said a new appeal would simply “re-run” arguments that Assange’s lawyers had already made and lost.
Assange has battled in British courts for years to avoid being sent to the U.S., where he faces 17 charges of espionage and one charge of computer misuse over WikiLeaks’ publication of classified diplomatic and military documents more than a decade ago.
In 2021, a British district judge ruled that Assange should not be extradited because he was likely to kill himself if held under harsh U.S. prison conditions. U.S. authorities later provided assurances that the Australia-born Assange wouldn’t face the severe treatment that his lawyers said would put his physical and mental health at risk.
Those assurances led Britain’s High Court and Supreme Court to overturn the lower court’s ruling, and the British government authorized extradition in June 2022.
Assange is seeking to halt extradition by obtaining a new court hearing on parts of his case that were dismissed by the first judge.
But in a ruling made public on Friday, Swift said all eight parts of Assange’s potential appeal were not “arguable” and should not be heard.
“The proposed appeal comes to no more than an attempt to re-run the extensive arguments made to and rejected by the district judge,” he said.
Assange’s wife, Stella Assange, said the WikiLeaks founder would make a new appeal attempt at a High Court hearing on Tuesday. He has almost exhausted his avenues of appeal in the U.K. but could still try to take his case to the European Court of Human Rights.
“We remain optimistic that we will prevail and that Julian will not be extradited to the United States, where he faces charges that could result in him spending the rest of his life in a maximum-security prison for publishing true information that revealed war crimes committed by the US government,” Stella Assange said on Twitter.
Assange’s supporters and lawyers maintain he was acting as a journalist and is entitled to First Amendment protections of freedom of speech. They argue that the case is politically motivated, that he would face inhumane treatment and be unable to get a fair trial in the U.S.
Assange, 51, remains in London’s high-security Belmarsh Prison, where he has been since he was arrested in 2019 for skipping bail during a separate legal battle. Before that, he spent seven years inside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London to avoid extradition to Sweden to face allegations of rape and sexual assault.
Sweden dropped the sex crimes investigations in November 2019 because so much time had elapsed, but British judges have kept Assange in prison pending the outcome of the U.S. extradition case.