U.S. officials pledged not to pursue the death penalty against Julian Assange if he’s extradited from the UK to face charges related to his publication of documents highly embarrassing to the U.S. government, according to a report from Australia’s ABC News Tuesday. But that will be cold comfort to some in the British legal system who have argued U.S. prisons are so inherently cruel that sending Assange to America, even with such a guarantee, would still amount to an inhumane act.

American officials at the U.S. embassy in London reportedly sent a note to British officials on Tuesday in a bid to address several concerns about what may happen to Assange if he’s ultimately extradited to the U.S., according to several news outlets. The 52-year-old WikiLeaks co-founder faces computer hacking and espionage charges first brought by President Donald Trump’s Justice Department that have been continued into the Biden era.

President Biden signaled last week he’d be open to dropping the case against Assange, saying “We’re considering it” when asked about a request from the Australian government. Assange is an Australian citizen, though he hasn’t lived in the country for some time and one of the questions addressed in the diplomatic note is whether the First Amendment applies to people outside the U.S.—an issue the U.S. insists Assange’s lawyers can “raise,” without elaborating too much.

Megan Specia, a reporter for the New York Times in London, tweeted the three-page note on Tuesday including two carefully-worded assurances, quoted below:

1. ASSANGE will not be prejudiced by reason of his nationality with respect to which defenses he may seek to raise at trial and at sentencing. Specifically, if extradited, ASSANGE will have the ability to raise and seek to rely upon at trial (which includes any sentencing hearing) the rights and protections given under the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States. A decision as to the applicability of the First Amendment is exclusively within the purview of the U.S. Courts.

2. A sentence of death will neither be sought nor imposed on ASSANGE. The United States is able to provide such assurance as ASSANGE is not charged with a death-penalty eligible offense, and the United States assures that he will not be tried for a death-eligible offense.

Assange has been held in Belmarsh Prison in London since 2019 and a British judge ruled in 2021 that he shouldn’t be extradited due to America’s extremely brutal prison system. The UK’s Judge Vanessa Baraitser cited Assange’s depressive state and risk of suicide in the conditions he would face in the U.S. when she first argued Assange shouldn’t be extradited in a surprise ruling.

“Mr. Assange faces the bleak prospect of severely restrictive detention conditions designed to remove physical contact and reduce social interaction and contact with the outside world to a bare minimum. He faces these prospects as someone with a diagnosis of clinical depression and persistent thoughts of suicide,” Judge Baraitser wrote back in 2021.

The judge’s ruling also noted that Assange could be stuck in solitary confinement for 23 hours per day while awaiting trial in the U.S., a punishment widely considered by other wealthy countries to be torture.

Julian Assange’s wife, Stella Assange, released a statement on Tuesday in response to news of the diplomatic note sent by the U.S. to the UK, calling them “blatant weasel words” that don’t actually guarantee Julian can claim protections under the First Amendment as a foreign citizen.

“The diplomatic note does nothing to relieve our family’s extreme distress about his future—his grim expectation of spending the rest of his life in isolation in U.S. prison for publishing award-winning journalism,” Stella Assange said, according to the AFP.

Lawyers for the U.S. and Assange are scheduled to reconvene in a British court on May 20, though it’s still unclear how many chances the WikiLeaks co-founder may have to appeal any decision that could see him finally shipped to the U.S.

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