WikiLeaks is a media organization, a United Kingdom tribunal ruled, a designation that could help its founder Julian Assange escape extradition to the United States on the grounds of press freedom, The Guardian reported.
U.S. officials have been discussing Assange's prosecution since WikiLeaks published thousands of confidential defense and diplomatic documents in 2010, per The Guardian. Jeff Sessions, the U.S. attorney general, reiterated America's interest in Assange in April, saying his arrest was a priority.
CIA director Mike Pompeo called WikiLeaks "a non-state hostile intelligence service often abetted by state actors like Russia," RT.com reported.
The U.K.'s information tribunal appeared, though, to give Assange a counter against efforts to transfer him to the United States if arrested. Assange remains sequestered in the Ecuadorian embassy in London where he has been given diplomatic asylum, per The Guardian.
"WikiLeaks is a media organization which publishes and comments upon censored or restricted official materials involving war, surveillance or corruption, which are leaked to it in a variety of different circumstances," the tribunal ruled, per The Guardian.
The tribunal heard the freedom of information case in November, RT.com said. Italian journalist Stefania Maurizi was trying to get documents relating to Assange, mainly in regard to extradition, released and had filed an appeal with the tribunal.
The Guardian said the tribunal dismissed Maurizi's appeal, saying there was a need for confidentiality on the matter of extradition.
Estelle Dehon, an attorney who represented Maurizi, told The Guardian while she was disappointed in her clients ruling, they were pleased with the WikiLeaks finding.
"Progress has been made because the tribunal accepted that the circumstances of the case raise issues of human rights and press freedom and also agreed that there is a significant public interest in disclosing the information, in particular to increase understanding of how the (Crown Prosecution Service) handled the extradition process and its relationship with a foreign prosecuting authority," Dehon told The Guardian.
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