UK government approves Julian Assange extradition to US on spying charges
Assange has the right to appeal and reportedly will do so imminently.
LONDON -- The British government has approved the extradition of Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks, to the United States to face charges of espionage.
Assange now has 14 days to appeal the decision of both the District Judge and the Secretary of State’s decision to order extradition.
Assange has always denied any wrongdoing.
According to a tweet by Wikileaks, Assange will appeal through the legal system to the High Court.
“Under the Extradition Act 2003, the Secretary of State must sign an extradition order if there are no grounds to prohibit the order being made," the U.K. Home Office said in a statement following the decision. "Extradition requests are only sent to the Home Secretary once a judge decides it can proceed after considering various aspects of the case. 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."
According to the U.K. Home Office, all extradition requests from countries outside Europe are sent to Westminster Magistrates’ Court. The court then hears arguments from both sides before making a decision on the extradition.
“In this case, the UK courts have not found that it would be oppressive, unjust or an abuse of process to extradite Mr Assange," the U.K. Home Office continued. "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.”
Assange is wanted in the U.S. in connection with one of the largest thefts of classified government information in American history. He was arrested in the U.K. in April 2019 and, just hours later, the United States announced charges against him for allegedly conspiring with former intelligence officer Chelsea Manning in order to gain unlawful access to a government computer.
Following his arrest by The Metropolitan Police in London in April 2019, the indictment again Assange, which was originally filed in March 2018, was released and claimed that Assange helped Manning crack a password on a Pentagon computer.
Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison for her role in the offense in 2013. However, her sentence was commuted by President Barack Obama as one of his final acts in office in January 2017.