UK Government approves extradition for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange
Assange will face espionage charges in the US, where he could be hit with a 175-year jail sentence.
UK Home Secretary Priti Patel has formally approved the extradition of Julian Assange to the US where he will face espionage charges, the UK Home Office has confirmed.
While Patel has given the green light, the WikiLeaks co-founder's legal team is hoping to launch a cross-appeal that would restart the clock on a renewed legal battle in the courts.
Assange had been residing at the Ecuadorian embassy in London for seven years before breaching bail on an extradition order to face sexual offence charges in Sweden, which were ultimately dropped in 2019, and has remained in Belmarsh high-security prison in London ever since. He now has 14 days to launch his appeal.
A spokesperson for the UK Home Office added in a statement:
“On 17 June, following consideration by both the Magistrates Court and High Court, the extradition of Mr Julian Assange to the US was ordered. Mr Assange retains the normal 14-day right to appeal.
“In this case, the UK courts have not found that it would be oppressive, unjust or an abuse of process to extradite Mr Assange. Nor have they found that extradition would be incompatible with his human rights, including his right to a fair trial and to freedom of expression, and that whilst in the US he will be treated appropriately, including in relation to his health.”
It went on to qualify that any extradition order must be signed by the secretary of state and that requests are only sent to government officials "once a judge decides it can proceed after considering various aspects of the case."
The US has been seeking to put the Australian-born writer, activist and leaker on trial since he published a series of leaks from army intelligence regarding wrongdoings by the military and government officials in Iraq and Afghanistan back in 2010.
Reacting to Friday morning's news, whistleblower Edward Snowden blasted both the UK and US Governments for sanctioning the move.
"Hard to believe, but it looks real," said Snowden on Twitter. "Every serious press freedom group in the world has protested this. It is an appalling symbol of how far the British and American governments' commitment to human rights has declined.
"How can we condemn authoritarian abuses abroad like this?" Snowden added.
Hard to believe, but it looks real. Every serious press freedom group in the world has protested this. It is an appalling symbol of how far the British and American governments' commitment to human rights has declined.
How can we condemn authoritarian abuses abroad like this? https://t.co/sgvLRgZtEg
— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) June 17, 2022