UK Court rules Assange can be extradited to US. Supreme Court waffles on Texas abortion law. Mexico: At least 54 migrants dead after truck overturns.
UK Court rules Assange can be extradited to U.S.; appeal expected
Today, British High Court judges ruled that Wikileaks founder Julian Assange could be extradited to the U.S., disputing a lower-court decision earlier this year. Assange faces 18 counts of espionage in the U.S. and faces more than 100 years in prison if convicted.
In January, a district court judge ruled that extraditing Assange to the U.S. would subject him to harsh prison conditions and increase his risk of suicide. Today’s ruling considered assurances from the U.S. Justice Department that Assange would not be subject to harsh Special Administrative Measures.
Assange’s team plans to appeal the High Court ruling to the UK Supreme Court. They must file the petition in the next 14 days.
Nils Melzer, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on torture, denounced the court’s decision. Melzer notes that the timing of the decision, coinciding with International Human Rights Day, was “disgraceful”. He observed that the court’s decision was “based on diplomatic assurances that, really, are not worth the paper that they’re written on”.
Even if the U.S. upheld the promise to not enforce Special Administrative Measures, Assange’s legal team say Assange would likely still be held in extreme isolation, which would affect his mental health.
Assange’s brother Gabriel Shipton highlights the hypocrisy of the Biden administration’s efforts to prosecute Assange. Today, Biden will host the first Democracy Summit. At the top of this agenda are global protections for media organizations and journalists. Just yesterday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken called on the world “to free all jailed journalists”. Shipton urged Biden to “walk the walk” on press freedom by pardoning Assange.
Supreme Court waffles on Texas abortion law, frustrating both sides
The Supreme Court has once again decided not to decide the fate of a Texas law that bans abortions after 6 weeks. A little over a month after hearing arguments in two cases pertaining to the controversial law, the court has allowed for a legal challenge to the law to proceed, but allowed the law to stay in place.
In the first case, Whole Woman’s Health v. Jackson, the court ruled 8-1 to allow a legal challenge by an abortion clinic to proceed. It will now revert back to lower federal court judge Robert Pittman in Austin. In a separate case, Pittman previously struck down Texas’ abortion restrictions as unconstitutional, only to have the 5th Circuit Court overturn his decision. A similar scenario is likely to play out in Whole Woman’s Health v. Jackson. This means the case may potentially find itself before the Supreme Court again.
In the second case, U.S v. Texas, the court ruled 8-1 not to strike down the law based on a challenge to the law by the Department of Justice. The court rejected the DOJ’s contention that it had the right to enforce federal constitutional rights, including the right to an abortion based on Supreme Court precedent.
At least 54 migrants dead after truck overturns in Mexico
A container truck carrying about 150 migrants from Guatemala, Honduras, Ecuador and the Dominican Republic overturned in southern Mexico. At least 49 died at the horrific scene, with 5 more dying in hospital. Men, women and children were among the dead.
The truck was speeding when it tried to take a sharp turn, and ultimately flipped over. According to witnesses, the crashed ripped the container in half and tore off its roof. The driver and a companion had sustained injuries but fled the scene before police arrived.
The crash took place in Tuxtla Gutiérrez, the capital of Chiapas state. Chiapas borders Guatemala and is a major point of entry for undocumented Central American migrants. Migrants often pay people smugglers who pack them into trucks like this one to avoid border patrols. It’s likely that the migrants crammed into the truck’s trailer were ultimately hoping to reach the U.S. border.
Please share any thoughts, comments or questions in the Comments section below!