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Julian Assange can appeal extradition to the US, London court rules

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange pauses as he makes a statement to media gathered outside the High Court in London, on Monday, Dec. 5, 2011. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth, File)

London (CNN) — The High Court in London has ruled WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has the right to appeal in a final challenge against his extradition to the United States.

Assange’s legal team argued that the judges Victoria Sharp and Jeremy Johnson should not accept the assurances given by US prosecutors that the WikiLeaks founder could seek to rely upon the rights and protections under the US First Amendment.

His legal team made the case that Assange could be discriminated against on the basis of his nationality, as an Australian-born foreign national.

In a short ruling, the judges said the US submissions were not sufficient, granting Assange permission to a full appeal in relation to the points on freedom of speech and nationality.

A date has not yet been set for the full appeal.

Assange is wanted by US authorities on espionage charges connected to his organization’s publication of thousands of classified documents and diplomatic cables in 2010 and 2011. He faces spending the rest of his life behind bars if convicted.

In March, the court delayed its decision on an extradition as the judges sought a series of assurances, including from the US that it would not seek the death penalty for the 52-year-old Australian citizen.

It has been 12 years since the Australian has lived freely.

Assange has spent the past five years in London’s high-security Belmarsh prison and nearly seven years before that holed up at the Ecuadorian embassy in the English capital trying to avoid arrest. He maintains his extradition is politically motivated.

This is a breaking news story and will be updated.