London court rules WikiLeaks founder Assange can appeal against an extradition order to US

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Stella Assange, wife of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, leaves the High Court in London on May 20. (AP)

LONDON, May 20, (AP): WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange can appeal against extradition to the United States on espionage charges, a London court ruled on Monday – a decision that is likely to further drag out what has already been a long legal saga.
High Court judges Victoria Sharp and Jeremy Johnson said Assange has grounds to challenge the United Kingdom’s government’s extradition order.
Assange, 52, has been indicted on 17 espionage charges and one charge of computer misuse over his website’s publication of a trove of classified US documents almost 15 years ago.
His supporters cheered and applauded outside court as news of the ruling reached them from inside the Royal Courts of Justice.
The Australian computer expert has spent the last five years in a British high-security prison after taking refuge in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London for seven years. The WikiLeaks founder was not in court to hear his fate being debated. He did not attend for health reasons, his lawyer said.
Lawyers for Assange argued Monday that the US provided “blatantly inadequate” assurances the WikiLeaks founder would have free press protections if extradited to the US.
Lawyer Edward Fitzgerald said prosecutors had failed to guarantee that Assange, who is an Australian citizen and claims protections as a journalist for publishing US classified information, could rely on press protections of the First Amendment of the US Constitution.

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