UK court delays decision on Assange's last-ditch extradition appeal bid

Two U.K. judges on Tuesday delayed a decision on whether to grant WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange a last-ditch appeal against extradition to the United States, giving Washington three weeks to provide "assurances" in the case.

The U.S. wants the 52-year-old Australian citizen to stand trial there for WikiLeaks' publication of hundreds of thousands of secret military and diplomatic files in 2010 relating to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Attempting to halt the process, he had suffered a string of court losses in the long-running legal saga, which his supporters see as a battle for media freedom.

But following two days of evidence last month, the judges in London said Assange had "a real prospect of success" on three of his nine grounds of appeal.

Victoria Sharp and Jeremy Johnson gave Washington three weeks to provide fresh assurances over concerns he will be prejudiced at trial because he is not an American citizen and that he could face the death penalty if convicted.

"Before making a final decision on the application for leave to appeal, we will give the respondent an opportunity to give assurances," the pair wrote in their 66-page ruling.

"If assurances are not given then we will grant leave to appeal without a further hearing.

"If assurances are given then we will give the parties an opportunity to make further submissions before we make a final decision."

 Legal saga 

Washington alleges that Assange and others at WikiLeaks recruited and agreed with hackers to conduct "one of the largest compromises of classified information" in U.S. history.

During two days of legal argument in February, lawyers for the U.S. government defended the case on various legal grounds to...

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