U.S. to try again for Assange extradition this week – National & International News – MON 25Oct2021

This week, attorneys for the U.S. will again ask a British court to extradite Wikileaks founder Julian Assange.


U.S. to try again for Assange extradition this week. Wild weather across U.S. this week. Sudan: military coup overthrows civilian government.



U.S. to try to extradite Assange again this week

On Wednesday, a British High Court will hear a Justice Department appeal to overturn a lower court judge’s decision to block Julian Assange’s extradition to the U.S. On Jan. 4, this year, a district court judge refused to allow the extradition on the grounds that Assange was at high risk of suicide.

Wikileaks founder Assange faces 18 charges, including espionage, in the U.S. These charges stem from Wikileaks’ 2010 release of classified documents which detailed U.S. war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan. If Assange were extradited and convicted on all charges, he would face up to 175 years in prison.

That hefty sentence, Assange’s deteriorating physical and mental health, and quite possibly the recent death of Jeffrey Epstein in federal custody led judge Vanessa Baraitser to block Assange’s extradition to the U.S. on humanitarian grounds. Baraitser offered no conclusions on the merits of the prosecution or the charges against Assange.

High Court appeal

The U.S. appeal to overturn Baraitser’s decision could go either way. DOJ attorneys are appealing on the grounds that Baraitser was overly swayed by testimony from Assange’s psychiatric expert. But even if the High Court accepts that argument, they still may not overturn Baraitser’s decision. 

Assange’s physical and mental health have deteriorated further in his intervening months of confinement at Belmarsh Prison. His attorney Antoine Vey says that, “As Mr. Assange’s health has not improved, there are no new elements that would lead the appeal judges to reverse the decision to refuse extradition”. Vey added, “It’s a matter of life and death”.

Last month, reports surfaced that Trump administration officials considered kidnapping or killing Assange while he was in asylum at the Ecuadorean embassy in London. In a sane world, these revelations would also factor in the High Court’s decision.

Whichever side loses before the High Court will still have to option to appeal to Britain’s Supreme Court.

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Wild weather across U.S. this week

A bomb cyclone that’s been battering the West Coast since Saturday evening has triggered mudslides, power outages and flash floods in some areas. That’s only the beginning of what’s predicted to be a week of severe weather events across the country.

Vast areas of Northern California that lost precious tree cover to the Dixie Fire suffered some of the most catastrophic mudslides. On Sunday, the National Weather Service warned area residents that it was already too late to evacuate, and advised people to stay on the highest floors of their homes. Images circulated yesterday of massive tumbles of earth and boulders blocking roads. Despite the devastation, the bomb cyclone only claimed two lives so far. Two people perished in Seattle when a tree fell on a vehicle.

Parts of Kansas and Illinois and most of Missouri were under tornado watches all day yesterday. Meanwhile, a powerful Nor’easter will likely make landfall this evening and bring heavy rains to New England through Wednesday. New York City will be under a flash flood warning from tonight until tomorrow afternoon.

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Sudan: military coup overthrows civilian government.

Sudanese military leaders have once again taken power after detaining the country’s interim Prime Minister Abdulla Hamdok and other senior civilian leaders. For the last two years, Sudan has been transitioning towards fully-democratic civilian rule after ending decades of Omar al-Bashir’s Islamist authoritarian rule. Until today, the civilian and military leadership had been sharing power. 

It’s unclear how much popular support the military has. After news of the coup broke, protesters took to the streets, setting up makeshift roadblocks in the capital Khartoum. Local medics report that at least 12 civilians have been shot in clashes with the military. 

Meanwhile, the military has shut down the Internet and cut off key roads and bridges. The U.S., other Western countries and the African Union have been quick to condemn the coup and demand reinstatement of the civilian leaders. The upset of Sudan’s delicate power balance could jeopardize the country’s access to much needed foreign aid and assistance.

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