The UK government has approved Assange’s extradition; he plans to appeal

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LONDON – The British government has ordered the extradition of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to the United States on charges of espionage. WikiLeaks has said it will appeal.

Interior Minister Priti Patel signed the extradition order on Friday, her department said. This follows a decision by a British court in April that Assange could be sent to the United States for publishing a huge set of classified documents by WikiLeaks more than a decade ago.

The Home Office said in a statement that the UK courts have not found that it would be oppressive, unfair or abusive to the extradition process. Assange. ”

“Nor have they established that extradition would be incompatible with his human rights, including his right to a fair trial and freedom of expression, and that while he is in the United States, he will be treated appropriately, including in relation to his health.

The decision is an important moment in Assange’s long battle to avoid a lawsuit in the United States – though not necessarily the end of the story. Assange has 14 days to appeal.

The United States has asked British authorities to extradite Assange so that he could be tried on 17 charges of espionage and one charge of computer misuse. U.S. prosecutors say Assange wrongfully helped U.S. Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning steal secret diplomatic telegrams and military files later published by WikiLeaks, putting his life at risk.

“Today is not the end of the battle. This is just the beginning of a new court battle, “said Assange’s wife, Stella Assange. She said the UK decision marked a “dark day for press freedom and British democracy”.

“Julian didn’t do anything wrong,” she said. “He has not committed a crime and he is not a criminal. He is a journalist and publisher and has been punished for doing his job.

A British judge approved the extradition in April, leaving the final decision to the government. The decision came after a court battle that reached the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom.

Journalists and human rights groups have called on Britain to reject the extradition request.

Supporters and lawyers for the 50-year-old Assange say he acted as a journalist and is entitled to the protection of freedom of speech from the First Amendment for publishing documents exposing US war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan. They claim that his case is politically motivated.

Assange’s lawyers say he could face up to 175 years in prison if convicted in the United States, although US officials say any sentences are likely to be much lower than that.

Assange has been detained in Britain’s heavily guarded Belmarsh prison in London since 2019, when he was arrested on bail during a separate court battle. He had previously spent seven years at the Ecuadorian embassy in London to avoid extradition to Sweden to face charges of rape and sexual assault.

Sweden stopped investigating sexual crimes in November 2019 because so much time had passed.

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