The founder of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange has been detained at the London Belmarsh Prison after his arrest at the Ecuadorian embassy in London on Thursday, April 11.
For nearly seven years, Assange lived in the embassy without taking a step outside for fear of being arrested and sent to the US to be prosecuted.
British authorities dragged the Australian from the embassy on Thursday and US authorities announced charges against him of conspiring to break into a Pentagon computer, setting up what is expected to be an epic legal and political battle over whether to extradite him to the US.
WikiLeaks editor-in-chief, Kristinn Hrafnsson said the prison where Assange is being held has medical facilities and presumably access to dental care and a garden.
“But comparing one prison to another and giving a star rating is not really what’s on my mind,” he said.
“What’s on my mind is there’s an innocent man in prison for doing his job as a journalist, and that’s an outrage.”
He said Assange is in relatively good mental condition considering the stress of recent days.
The political debate over whether to extradite Assange is already taking shape, with Britain’s opposition Labour Party urging the government not to hand him over to the Americans.
Party leader Jeremy Corbyn tweeted that the US is prosecuting Assange because he exposed “evidence of atrocities in Iraq and Afghanistan”.
The extradition of Julian Assange to the US for exposing evidence of atrocities in Iraq and Afghanistan should be opposed by the British government.pic.twitter.com/CxTUrOfkHt
— Jeremy Corbyn (@jeremycorbyn) April 11, 2019
Assange’s bid to fend off extradition could take years and involve several layers of appeal.
He could also face a second extradition request if Sweden decides to pursue a rape case against him that was suspended in 2017, when he was in the embassy, beyond the reach of the law.
If found guilty of the US charges, Assange faces up to five years in prison.
His next court appearance is set for May 2 via a prison video link.
Extradition lawyer Ben Keith said the court will not assess the evidence against Assange to determine his guilt or innocence but will scrutinise whether the offence he is accused of in the US would be a crime in Britain.
“The most likely outcome is that he will be extracted to the United States,” Keith said.
If Assange loses in extradition court, he could appeal several times and ultimately try to have his case heard at the European Court of Human Rights – unless Britain has left the EU by that time.