Julian Assange has been successful in his bid to ask the Supreme Court to consider the decision to have him extradited to the United States.
Mr Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, is wanted in the US over alleged conspiracy to obtain and disclose national defence information.
The case came after his site published hundreds of thousands of leaked documents relating to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, handed to him by US army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning.
The High Court has this morning ruled that Mr Assange can request the UK’s highest court block his extradition to the US.
For the appeal to have been considered by the court, Mr Assange’s case needed to raise a point of law of ‘general public importance’.
Birnberg Peirce Solicitors, the law firm representing the Australian, said the case raised ‘serious and important’ legal issues. This included an over-reliance on the assurances provided by the US over his prison conditions in the country.
In December last year the US won an appeal at the High Court to have the decision not to extradite him overturned. This was based on promises by officials that he would not be kept under ‘restrictive’ conditions.
The documents released to Mr Assange and WikiLeaks between 2010 and 2011 revealed how the US military had killed thousands of civilians in the war in Afghanistan that had gone unreported.
Documents leaked from the Iraq war told how 66,000 civilians had been killed while prisoners had also been tortured by Iraqi forces.
The US says the leaks endangered lives and broke the law.
Speaking outside court today, Mr Assange’s fiancée Stella Morris said: ‘Our fight goes on, and we’ll fight this until Julian is freed.’
Speaking about the significance of the ruling, Thomas Garner, extradition partner at firm Fladgate, said: ‘Assange may yet have the dubious honour of being the first extradition defendant to secure permission to appeal to the Supreme Court twice.
‘’When he lost his first challenge – then to a European Arrest Warrant from Sweden – he sought refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy. There will be no such option this time as he remains in custody.’’
Before adding: ‘’The High Court have certified that Assange’s case involved a point of law of general public importance, but declined to grant permission to appeal to the Supreme Court.
“Assange must now renew his application for permission to appeal to the Supreme Court directly and they may still refuse to hear the case, but today’s decision keeps his hopes of challenging his extradition to the USA alive.’’