Julian Assange's U.S. Extradition Possible After U.K. Court Appeal Refused

The extradition of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange to the United States is now even more likely after his bid for permission to appeal at the Supreme Court in the U.K. was denied.

"The application has been refused by the Supreme Court and the reason given is that application did not raise an arguable point of law," a court spokesperson said.

Assange, who was born in Australia, could now potentially face trial in the U.S. for publishing thousands of classified documents on WikiLeaks between 2010 and 2011. He faces 18 charges under the Espionage Act and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and could see up to 175 years in prison if convicted.

Interior Minister Priti Patel must now ratify the extradition decision, Reuters reported. After ratification, Assange would be able to challenge the ruling again via a judicial review.

The 50-year-old is currently being held at London's high-security Belmarsh prison. This latest step toward possible extradition comes more than a decade after his site leaked the confidential U.S. military and diplomatic records.

Assange Appeal Denied
The extradition of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange to the U.S. is now even more likely after his bid for permission to appeal at the Supreme Court was denied. Above, Assange arrives at the Supreme Court in London on February 1, 2012. Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP Photo

U.K. police arrested Assange in April 2019 at Ecuador's embassy in London, where he had been living since 2012 after being granted asylum.

A lower court initially ruled that Assange should not be extradited to the U.S. over mental health concerns that District Judge Vanessa Baraitser said put him at "substantial" risk of suicide. That decision was later reversed by the High Court in London in December.

A summary of the court ruling stated that the U.S. has said that if Assange was extradited, he would not be held at a maximum security prison, would receive humane treatment and would be able to carry out his sentence in Australia if convicted, Newsweek previously reported.

Assange would also get "appropriate clinical and psychological treatment," the U.S. said.

The U.K. Supreme Court was tasked with deciding whether to hear Assange's appeal after High Court judges did not authorize him to appeal the ruling directly to the nation's highest court.

If Patel ratifies the extradition ruling and Assange decides to challenge it through a judicial review, a judge would then have to review the validity of the decision, according to Reuters.

In a statement posted on Twitter by the official WikiLeaks account, lawyer Barry Pollack said that "Assange will continue the legal process fighting his extradition to the United States to face criminal charges for publishing truthful and newsworthy information."

Newsweek has reached out to a member of Assange's legal team for additional comment.

Update 03/14/22, 2:45 p.m. ET: This story was updated

Update 03/14/22, 2:10 p.m. ET: This story was updated with additional information and background.