Julian Assange's lawyers intend to take his case to the Supreme Court, his fiancee says, after the High Court allowed the WikiLeaks founder's extradition to the United States.
Assange, 50, is wanted in the US over an alleged conspiracy to obtain and disclose classified information following WikiLeaks' publication of hundreds of thousands of leaked documents relating to the Afghanistan and Iraq wars.
US authorities brought a High Court challenge against a January ruling by then-district judge Vanessa Baraitser that Assange should not be sent to the US, in which she cited a real and "oppressive" risk of suicide.
After a two-day hearing in October, the Lord Chief Justice Lord Burnett, sitting with Lord Justice Holroyde, ruled in favour of the US on Friday.
The senior judges concluded that the judge had based her decision on the risk of Assange being held in highly restrictive prison conditions if extradited.
However, the US authorities later gave assurances that Assange would not face those strictest measures either pre-trial or post-conviction unless he committed an act in the future that required them.
"That risk is in our judgment excluded by the assurances which are offered," Lord Burnett said.
"It follows that we are satisfied that, if the assurances had been before the judge, she would have answered the relevant question differently."
He added: "That conclusion is sufficient to determine this appeal in the USA's favour."
The judges ordered that the case must return to Westminster Magistrates' Court for a district judge to formally send it to UK Home Secretary Priti Patel.
Assange's fiancee Stella Moris called the ruling "dangerous and misguided" and said his lawyers intended to seek an appeal at the Supreme Court.
Speaking outside the Royal Courts of Justice in London, she said: "Today, it's been almost a year since I stood outside court with our victory of the blocking of the extradition.
"For the past... two years and a half, Julian has remained in Belmarsh prison, and in fact, he has been detained since December 7 2010 in one form or another, 11 years. For how long can this go on?"
The legal wrangling will go to the Supreme Court, the United Kingdom's final court of appeal.
"It is highly disturbing that a UK court has overturned a decision not to extradite Julian Assange, accepting vague assurances by the United States government," Assange's lawyer Barry Pollack said.
"Mr Assange will seek review of this decision by the UK Supreme Court."
Supporters of Assange gathered outside of the court after the ruling, chanting "free Julian Assange" and "no extradition".
They tied hundreds of yellow ribbons to the court's gates and held up placards saying "journalism is not a crime".
If Assange's lawyers do take his case to the Supreme Court, justices will first decide whether to hear the case before any appeal is heard.
During October's hearing, James Lewis QC for the US said that the "binding" diplomatic assurances made were a "solemn matter" and "are not dished out like Smarties".
The assurances included that Assange would not be held in a so-called "ADX" maximum security prison in Colorado or submitted to special administrative measures (SAMs) and that he could be transferred to Australia to serve his sentence if convicted.
But lawyers representing Assange had argued that the assurances over the WikiLeaks founder's potential treatment were "meaningless" and "vague".
Edward Fitzgerald QC, for Assange, previously told the High Court that Australia had not indicated whether it would accept Assange, who "will most likely be dead before it can have any purchase, if it ever could".
However, in the ruling, Lord Burnett said: "The possibility that Australia may not be willing to receive a transfer cannot be a cause for criticism of the USA, or a reason for regarding the assurances as inadequate to meet the judge's concerns."
The United Nations' special rapporteur on torture Nils Melzer sharply criticised the verdict.
"This is a shortcoming for the British judiciary," Melzer told the DPA news agency on Friday.
"You can think what you want about Assange but he is not in a condition to be extradited," he said, referring to a "politically motivated verdict".
with reporting from Reuters and DPA
Australian Associated Press
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