Currently held in a small cell within London's high-security Belmarsh Prison—once referred to by the BBC as the British Guantanamo Bay—Assange and his supporters are endlessly fighting the British courts' decision to allow his extradition to the United States.
Assange has endured years of legal battles and back-and-forth across the globe after being accused of espionage by the US government in 2019 and 2020, for his role in the creation of WikiLeaks. The journalist received asylum in Ecuador between 2012 and 2019 on the grounds of political persecution. But in April 2019, Assange's sentence in Belmarsh began, where he has since sat confined without trial.
In early May of this year, Assange wrote a letter to the then-incoming King Charles ahead of his coronation, pleading with the king to visit and experience the horrors of Belmarsh, where inspectors have noted that many inmates spend up to 22 hours per day in confinement. In addition to the high-security prison's poor conditions, calls for Assange's freedom have been compounded by concerns over the aging journalist's physical and mental health. Leaders of both major competing political parties in his home country of Australia came together this year to publicly back a diplomatic intervention to end the sentence, arguing that "[t]here is nothing to be served by his ongoing incarceration."
Supporters, press freedom advocates, and human rights groups around the world have rallied against Assange's extradition to the United States for similar reasons, contending that the even worse conditions in US prisons would certainly put the journalist at high risk of suicide or other bodily harm. His defense team continues to argue that extradition to the US would guarantee his imprisonment within dangerous conditions. Assange would face a highly politically charged trial, including 17 charges under the notorious US Espionage Act that could land him a 175-year prison sentence.