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Supporters of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange hold a placard during a protest against his extradition to the U.S. outside the High Court in London, on Jan. 24.DANIEL LEAL/AFP/Getty Images

A British court has given WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange a final opportunity to stop his extradition to the United States to face criminal charges related to espionage.

On Monday, the High Court ruled that Mr. Assange can appeal to Britain’s Supreme Court, which will have to agree to hear the case.

The decision marks the latest twist in Mr. Assange’s prolonged legal battle to avoid prosecution in the U.S.

He won a major victory a year ago when District Judge Vanessa Baraitser blocked his extradition on humanitarian grounds. She said that, if convicted in the U.S., Mr. Assange would be imprisoned in ADX Florence, a “supermax” facility in Florence, Colo., where isolation is extreme and mental-health services are limited. The judge noted that Mr. Assange suffered from depression and had persistent thoughts of suicide.

That ruling was overturned last December by an appellate panel of the High Court, which said Judge Baraitser should have notified the U.S. Department of Justice of her views before issuing her ruling “to afford it the opportunity to offer assurances to the court.”

The panel added that, since the ruling, the DOJ had provided U.K. officials with a package of assurances that Mr. Assange would not be imprisoned at ADX Florence or held according to special administrative measures – restrictive solitary confinement reserved for terrorism and national security prisoners. The DOJ also said it would agree to transfer Mr. Assange, who is originally from Australia, to an Australian prison to serve his sentence.

“There is no reason why this court should not accept the assurances as meaning what they say,” the appeal judges said. “There is no basis for assuming that the U.S.A. has not given the assurances in good faith.”

Monday’s decision means Mr. Assange’s lawyers can seek to challenge the December ruling at the Supreme Court. However, the court did not grant a direct appeal, which means the Supreme Court still has to agree to hear the case.

All the criminal charges against Mr. Assange relate to the publication by WikiLeaks of more than 250,000 secret military cables, reports and briefing notes in 2010 and 2011. The material exposed atrocities by U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq and led to an outcry over U.S. foreign policy.

Mr. Assange and his supporters have argued that he acted like any other journalist and that the leaks served the public interest.

U.S. prosecutors have always insisted the case has nothing to do with freedom of the press. They argue the charges focus on his conduct in helping former U.S. Army intelligence officer Chelsea Manning hack into government computers to steal the secret military documents. Ms. Manning received a 35-year sentence in 2013 for violating the Espionage Act, but the jail term was commuted by then-president Barack Obama just before he left office in 2017.

Mr. Assange, 50, has long feared facing criminal charges in the U.S. In 2012, he sought refuge in the Ecuadorean embassy in London after a British court upheld his extradition to Sweden to stand trial for sexual assault. He denied the Swedish charges but felt certain the Swedes would turn him over to U.S. prosecutors.

He was forced out of the embassy in 2019 when Ecuador said he violated the conditions of asylum. London police arrested him for skipping bail, and, although the Swedish case was later dropped, Mr. Assange was sentenced to 50 weeks in prison by a British judge for the bail violation.

He has remained in jail throughout the extradition process.

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