UK approves WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s extradition to U.S.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange leaves Westminster Magistrates Court in London, Britain.

Henry Nicholls | Reuters

The UK has approved the extradition of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to the US, where he is wanted for publishing hundreds of thousands of classified military documents and diplomatic cables.

The deportation was approved by UK Home Secretary Priti Patel on Friday following a series of unsuccessful legal battles in UK courts. However, a number of avenues of appeal remain open to Assange, who has 14 days to appeal the decision.

Assange is wanted by US authorities on 18 counts, including an espionage charge, related to WikiLeaks’ release in 2010 and 2011 of vast troves of confidential US military records and diplomatic cables, which they claim have put lives at risk.

“On June 17, after consideration by the Magistrates Court and the High Court, the extradition of Mr. Julian Assange to the United States was ordered. Mr. Assange retains the normal 14-day right of appeal,” said a spokesperson for the UK Home Office.

“In this case, the UK courts did not find that it would be oppressive, unjust or constitute an abuse of process to extradite Mr. Assange. Nor did they find that extradition would be incompatible with his rights. human beings, including his right to a fair trial and freedom of expression, and that while in the United States he will be treated appropriately, including with respect to his health.”

Friday’s extradition approval is the latest development in a years-long saga for Australian-born Assange. He has spent much of the last decade in detention, either in prison or at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. He is currently being held at Belmarsh high security prison in London.

Wikileaks said on Twitter it would appeal the decision, adding it was “a dark day for press freedom and British democracy”.

Assange’s supporters have long claimed he was an anti-establishment hero whose prosecution was politically motivated because he exposed US misdeeds in the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The 50-year-old can appeal the decision to the High Court in London, which must give its approval for a challenge to take place.

His case could eventually reach the UK Supreme Court. However, if he is refused, he must be extradited within 28 days.

Assange’s lawyers have previously claimed he could face up to 175 years in prison if convicted in the United States. However, the US government said the sentence was more likely to be four to six years.

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