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Assange to face next stage of extradition legal battle

Julian Assange is set to face the next stage of his legal battle over his extradition to the US at the UK’s High Court.

The WikiLeaks founder faces prosecution in the US over an alleged conspiracy to obtain and disclose national defence information after the publication of hundreds of thousands of leaked documents relating to the Afghanistan and Iraq wars.

During a two-day hearing in February, lawyers for the 52-year-old asked for the go-ahead to challenge a judge’s dismissal of the majority of his case to prevent his extradition.

In March, Dame Victoria Sharp and Mr Justice Johnson dismissed most of Mr Assange’s legal arguments but said that unless assurances were given by the US he would be able to bring an appeal on three grounds.

These assurances are that Mr Assange would be protected by and allowed to rely on the First Amendment, which protects freedom of speech in the US, that he is not “prejudiced at trial” due to his nationality, and that the death penalty is not imposed.

Last month, the two judges confirmed the US had provided an assurance to the court and scheduled today’s hearing where it is expected lawyers for the US and Assange will present arguments about the assurances.

If the assurances are found to be satisfactory by the judges, it is expected that Mr Assange’s bid for a final UK appeal will be refused and his extradition ordered.

If the assurances are not deemed satisfactory, the Wikileaks founder will be allowed to bring his High Court appeal.

The hearing will begin at 10.30am this morning.

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