London, UK – Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks, faces the risk of suicide if his final appeal against extradition to the United States is rejected by the UK High Court next month, according to his lawyer. Jennifer Robinson, an international human rights lawyer, expressed concern for Assange’s mental well-being, stating that he is unlikely to endure extradition if the court ruling does not favor him.
Assange is currently held in London’s high-security Belmarsh Prison, awaiting extradition on charges related to the publication of thousands of diplomatic and military documents in 2010. The US government seeks his extradition on 17 espionage charges, which could result in a prison sentence of up to 175 years, along with one charge of computer misuse.
Robinson emphasized the toll that more than a decade of detention has taken on Assange, who spent nearly seven years in the Ecuadorian embassy in London before being forced to leave. She stated that he suffers from a major depressive illness, has been diagnosed with autism, and warned that his mental conditions could lead to suicide if he is extradited to the United States.
Assange has one final avenue for appeal outside of the US, but his lawyer is not optimistic about its success. Robinson acknowledged the possibility of making an application to the European Court of Human Rights, but its intervention is not guaranteed.
The Australian government has shown support in bringing Assange home, with Prime Minister Anthony Albanese personally lobbying the US government to drop the charges. The Prime Minister made it clear that he sees no benefit in further incarcerating Assange and has advocated for his release. Last September, a delegation of Australian politicians traveled to the US to meet with the Justice Department and call for Assange’s release.
Robinson described the Australian government’s role as “supportive” and expressed her collaboration with government representatives to reach a resolution. She highlighted the irony of the situation, noting that Assange faces the prospect of 175 years in a US prison, despite democratic claims and free speech protections.
Assange’s final appeal will take place in February, and Robinson’s concern for her client’s well-being remains. The outcome of the appeal will determine whether Assange will be extradited or if the European Court of Human Rights will intervene. The case has garnered international attention and raises questions about the limitations of free speech and the treatment of whistleblowers in the modern era.