Julian Assange’s fiancée called on President Joe Biden on Wednesday to drop the US case against the WikiLeaks founder after a British court granted the US permission to appeal for his extradition.
Washington is seeking to overturn a January court ruling in London that blocked Assange’s extradition to face trial in the United States on espionage charges over WikiLeaks’ publication of thousands of US military and diplomatic documents.
Assange’s legal team said the High Court of England and Wales granted the US government permission to appeal that ruling on “narrow, technical grounds”. No date was given for the hearing.
Speaking outside the High Court in central London, Assange’s fiancée, Stella Moris, said she was “appealing to the Biden administration to do the right thing”.
She added if the White House was “serious about respecting the rule of law, the First Amendment and of defending global press freedom, the only thing it can do is drop this case.”
Assange’s supporters have condemned the US decision to prosecute the 50-year-old, arguing that it was politically motivated under former president Donald Trump.
The US claims he helped intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning steal 500 000 secret files before exposing confidential sources around the world.
If extradited, tried and convicted, he could face a 175-year sentence.
Concerns have been raised about Assange’s mental and physical health as he is held at Belmarsh high-security prison in south London.
The decision to block his extradition was motivated by fears his mental health could deteriorate drastically if he was sent to the US and he might take his own life.
Moris, 38, called his ongoing imprisonment a “daily struggle”, adding he was “very unwell”.
“The only way to end this purgatory, this endless torture that has been going on for over a decade, is to just drop this,” she said.
Before his arrest in 2019 for skipping bail, the WikiLeaks founder had spent seven years inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London to evade extradition.