Assange’s partner Stella Moris joined protesters demanding his immediate release from a high-security jail in London
The United States sought to assure a British court Wednesday that Julian Assange would not be held at a federal supermax prison, as it appealed a decision to block his extradition on the grounds he is a serious suicide threat.
The WikiLeaks founder faces espionage charges and up to 175 years in jail if he is sent to the United States and convicted.
The initial judgment was partly based on concerns Assange was likely to be held in isolation in the US’s only federal so-called supermax prison, the ADX Florence jail in Colorado.
He also said Assange “will receive any such clinical and psychological treatment as is recommended” and that he will eventually be eligible to apply for a prisoner transfer to his native Australia.
However, Assange’s team responded in legal filings that the assurances did not rule out altogether the chance of him being detained at the facility, at a “comparable” federal prison or a state-level supermax jail.
– ‘End this nightmare’ –
“I’m very concerned for Julian’s health,” Moris told reporters, after visiting Assange in the prison on Saturday.
One demonstrator dressed in black and a funereal veil held a banner reading “RIP British Justice”. Another, 20-year-old Ruby Allen, said Assange was an innocent defender of “press freedom”.
– Wrangling ahead –
He has been indicted for violating the US espionage act and for hacking, based on the alleged aid he gave former military intelligence officer Chelsea Manning in obtaining the documents from secure computer systems.
The US government has said the judge who made the ruling in January, Vanessa Baraitser, “didn’t appreciate the weight” of expert evidence that said Assange was not at risk of suicide.
But the US government’s lawyers have argued Baraitser was “misled” in evidence from Assange’s psychiatric expert Michael Kopelman, who they claim concealed things such as that his client had fathered children with Moris while holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London.
Whatever the High Court decides, further lengthy legal wrangling looms.
Whoever loses can also ask for permission for a further, final appeal to the UK’s Supreme Court.
Originally published as US says Assange will not face supermax jail in renewed extradition bid