UK approves extradition of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to the United States

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is leaving the Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London, UK.

Henry Nichols Reuters

The United Kingdom has approved the extradition of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to the United States, where he wanted to publish hundreds of thousands of secret military documents and diplomatic telegrams.

The deportation was approved on Friday by UK Home Secretary Priti Patel after a series of failed court battles in British courts. However, a number of appeals remain open for Assange, who has 14 days to challenge the decision.

Assange is wanted by US authorities on 18 counts, including espionage charges involving the release of WikiLeaks in 2010 and 2011 on vast tracks of confidential US military records and diplomatic telegrams they say have put their lives in danger.

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

“In this case, the UK courts have not found that extradition of Mr Assange would be repressive, unfair or abusive. 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 in the United States he will be treated appropriately, including in relation to his health. “

Friday’s extradition approval is the latest development in the long-running Australian-born Assange saga. He has spent much of the last decade in prison, either in prison or at the Ecuadorian embassy in London. He is currently being held in the heavily guarded Belmarsh Prison in London.

A spokesman for Assange’s legal team was not available as soon as he contacted CNBC.

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

Proponents of Assange have long argued that he is a hero against the establishment, whose prosecution has been politically motivated as it has exposed US atrocities in the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq.

A “more interesting phase” is coming.

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Nick Vamos, head of business at London-based crime and trade law firm Peters & Peters, said Friday’s extradition approval was far from over, with “the more interesting phase of Mr Assange’s extradition battle still forthcoming. “

“This decision was inevitable given the very narrow grounds on which the interior minister may refuse extradition, but it is unlikely to be the end of the road,” Vamos said on Friday.

Assange can appeal to the UK Supreme Court on all the grounds he initially lost, Vamos said. These reasons include political motivation, freedom of speech and whether he will receive a fair trial in the United States

“He may also try to present new evidence of conspiracy to assassinate the CIA and the fact that a key witness against him has publicly withdrawn his evidence,” Vamos added.

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