Assange files legal challenge to prevent extradition to US: report

Assange files legal challenge to prevent extradition to US: report
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WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange launched a legal challenge against the Trump administration on Wednesday in an effort to require U.S. prosecutors to “unseal” any secret charges against him.

Assange’s lawyers filed an urgent application to the Washington-based Inter-American Commission of Human Rights (IACHR) in an attempt to head off a possible extradition to the U.S., according to The Guardian.

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The IACHR did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Hill.

The Australian-born activist has been hiding out at the Ecuadorean Embassy in London since 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden over a rape investigation.

Though Swedish prosecutors have since dropped their request for extradition, a U.S. court filing revealed in November suggests that U.S. prosecutors having already pressed sealed charges against Assange.

Furthermore, reports have emerged that Assange’s Ecuadorian hosts have become increasingly displeased with their tenant. Should he be kicked out of the embassy, Assange could face contempt of court charges in the United Kingdom for fleeing justice, after which U.S. prosecutors could renew extradition proceedings.

Assange reportedly rejected a deal in December brokered between Ecuador and the United Kingdom that would allow him to leave the Ecuadorian Embassy without the risk of being extradited for charges abroad.

Though it is unclear what exact charges Assange could face in the U.S., officials have sought to prosecute him since WikiLeaks distributed classified U.S. cables obtained from former U.S. Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning in 2010.

WikiLeaks has also come under scrutiny from special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE in his probe into possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign to influence the 2016 presidential election.

The Guardian reported in November that former Trump campaign chairman Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortEx-Obama White House counsel's trial set for August House Dem calls on lawmakers to 'insulate' election process following Mueller report New normal: A president can freely interfere with investigations without going to jail MORE held private conversations with Assange in London around the time he joined then-candidate Trump's campaign team. 

Manafort and WikiLeaks denied the report, with WikiLeaks establishing a crowdfunding campaign in an effort to sue The Guardian.

The 1,172-page submission Wednesday to the IACHR, which monitors human rights in the Western Hemisphere, calls on the U.S. to clarify the charges Assange would face and for Ecuador to cease its “espionage activities” against him, according to The Guardian. While the IACHR hears appeals on individual cases, the Trump administration has boycotted its most recent hearings.

The document also alleges that U.S. prosecutors have begun approaching people, including some associated with WikiLeaks’ joint publications with other media about American foreign policy, throughout Europe to offer immunity in return for testimony against Assange.