UK Home Secretary Priti Patel signs extradition order for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in the United States, where he faces charges of espionage, in a decision that his organization says marks a “dark day for press freedom.”
or the court in London official extradition order in April, leaving Patel to seal his transfer to the United States after a long court battle.
The decision is likely to lead to more months of litigation: Jennifer Robinson, Assange’s legal adviser, said on Friday that she would be appealed and that the case could eventually be referred to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.
“This is not the end of the road and we will use all available appeal mechanisms to prevent this extradition,” she told a news conference.
In a statement Friday, Wikileaks said Assange “did not commit a crime and is not a criminal”, adding that he was a “journalist and publisher” who was “punished for doing his job”.
“This is a grim day for press freedom and British democracy. “Anyone who is interested in freedom of expression should be deeply ashamed,” added Wikileaks.
The interior ministry stressed on Friday that the courts in the United Kingdom have not found that extradition of Assange would be incompatible with his human rights.
“The UK courts have not found that extradition of Mr Assange would be repressive, unfair or abusive. They also did not find that the extradition would be incompatible with his human rights, including his right to a fair trial and freedom of expression, and that while in the United States he would be treated appropriately, including in relation to his health. “, Said in a statement announcing the contract.
Assange has the right to appeal Friday’s decision within 14 days, it added.
Assange’s wife, Stella Morris, told a news conference on Friday that the United Kingdom “should not engage in persecution on behalf of a foreign power seeking revenge … that a foreign power has committed crimes that Julian exposed to the sun.” “.
Assange is currently in the heavily guarded Belmarsh prison in London, where he was held after being taken out of the Ecuadorian embassy in London three years ago.
He is wanted in the United States on 18 criminal charges after WikiLeaks published thousands of classified files and diplomatic telegrams in 2010. Assange faces up to 175 years in prison if convicted.
His extradition has been the subject of numerous court dates since his arrest, after Assange sought diplomatic asylum at the embassy for seven years. In January 2021, a magistrate’s court ruled that Assange could not be extradited because it would be “depressing” due to his mental health.
But the Supreme Court overturned the decision in December, saying Assange could be extradited based on assurances given by the US government that he would be treated there.
Human rights groups have expressed concern over the US accusation against Assange, saying it undermines press freedom.
“Leaving Julian Assange to be extradited to the United States would put him at great risk and send a chilling message to journalists around the world,” said Agnes Kalamar, Secretary General of Amnesty International. said in a statement Friday.
Tim Dawson, an executive member of the National Union of Journalists in the UK, who spoke with Assange’s wife on Friday, said the alleged crimes for which the Wikileaks founder was prosecuted were “the daily work of almost every investigative journalist”.
On Friday, the Australian Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement noting the UK’s decision to extradite Assange, an Australian citizen, adding: “We will continue to convey our expectation that Mr Assange is entitled to due process, humane and fair treatment, access to appropriate medical care and access to his legal team. ”
According to the statement, the Australian government claims that the case of the founder of Wikileaks “took too long and must be completed.”
“We will continue to express this view to the governments of the United Kingdom and the United States,” the statement said.