Assange: 11-year battle not to be sent to US

London (AFP) – Jailed WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is facing extradition to the United States for the 2010 publication of thousands of leaked classified documents.


British judges on Friday overturned a ruling blocking him being sent there to face espionage charges, in the latest twist in the long-running case.

2010: assault charges

Assange's WikiLeaks whistleblowing website begins releasing 470,000 US classified military documents in July 2010 about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

It later releases another batch of more than 250,000 classified US diplomatic cables.

In November, a Swedish prosecutor issues an arrest warrant for Assange over sexual assault allegations involving two women.

He denies the claims, saying they had consensual sex.

But he reports to police in London in December and is arrested. A week later he is released on bail.

2012: embassy refuge

In February 2011, a British judge rules that Assange can be extradited to Sweden.

He appeals, claiming the Swedish allegations are a pretext to transfer him to the US.

In June 2012, he takes refuge in Ecuador's embassy in London to avoid extradition. Ecuador, then ruled by left-wing president Rafael Correa, grants him asylum in August.

In May 2017, Swedish prosecutors drop the sex assault investigation after failing to obtain Assange's transfer.

In December, Ecuador grants Assange nationality but is blocked by Britain from according him diplomatic status.

2019: arrest, prison

In January 2018, Ecuador, now ruled by right-wing President Lenin Moreno, says hosting Assange has become "untenable".

In March it temporarily cuts his communication links. Tensions peak in April 2019 when Moreno says Assange has "repeatedly violated" the conditions of his asylum.

Ecuador revokes his citizenship on April 10.

The next day, British police drag Assange out of the embassy, having been informed that his asylum has been withdrawn. He is arrested on a US extradition request.

In May, Assange is sentenced to 50 weeks in jail for having breached bail in 2010.

The legal process for his extradition to the US begins, and Swedish prosecutors reopen the rape investigation.

US charges

On May 23, the US Justice Department charges Assange with violating the US Espionage Act by publishing military and diplomatic files in 2010.

If convicted, he faces jail terms of up to 175 years.

UN rights experts Nils Melzer says Assange has been subjected to "psychological torture" that had seriously affected his health.

Assange makes his first court appearance since being jailed on June 15 via videolink. Subsequently he looks frail and confused.

2020: Trump claim

In February court hearings, Assange's lawyers claim then US president Donald Trump had promised him a pardon if he denied Russia had leaked him damaging emails about Hillary Clinton ahead of the 2016 presidential election.

The White House denies the claim.

Swedish charge dropped

On November 19, Swedish prosecutors drop the rape investigation because "the evidence is not strong enough" despite "credible" claims from the woman who filed the complaint.

2021: Victory then setback

Assange's supporters celebrate after a London court blocks his extradition in January on the grounds that he would be a suicide risk if sent to the US.

But with the whistleblower still behind bars, a High Court appeal overturns the verdict Friday, sending the case back to the original court after the US promised that Assange would not be held in isolation in American jails and would receive proper medical treatment.