The US government on Friday won an appeal against a London court ruling that had blocked the extradition of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange from Britain.
Washington challenged the decision made in January that the 50-year-old Australian would be a suicide risk if he was transferred to the US justice system.
Assange is wanted to face trial for the publication by WikiLeaks in 2010 of classified military documents relating to the US wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
A two-day hearing was held in October where US lawyers argued that the original judge had not given sufficient weight to other expert testimony about Assange’s mental state.
They also sought to assure the court that he would not be held in punishing isolation at a federal supermax prison, and would receive appropriate treatment.
Two appeal judges at the High Court in London accepted US assurances that Assange would not face the strictest measures before any trial or after conviction.
“That conclusion is sufficient to determine this appeal in the USA’s favour,” they said.
The case will now go back to the lower court to be considered again.
But Assange’s partner, Stella Moris, said they would “appeal this decision at the earliest possible moment”.
The long-running case has become a cause celebre for free speech, with Assange’s supporters arguing WikiLeaks has the same rights as other media to publish secret material in the public interest.
Pro-Assange supporters gathered outside the court, waving placards and demanding his immediate release from a high-security jail in southeast London.
The US government has indicted Assange on 18 charges relating to WikiLeaks’ release of 500,000 secret files on the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq.
If extradited, tried and convicted, he could be jailed for up to 175 years, although the exact sentence is difficult to estimate and could be shorter.
Assange has been in custody since 2019, despite having served a previous sentence for breaching bail conditions in a separate case.
The maverick publisher spent seven years at Ecuador’s embassy in London to avoid being removed to Sweden to face sexual assault allegations that were later dropped.
While at the South American country’s mission, he fathered two children with Moris, who is a member of his legal team.
British prison authorities last month gave the couple permission to marry at the Belmarsh high-security prison in southeast London.