Julian Assange: Priti Patel signs extradition order for Wikileaks founders

Julian Assange and Priti Patel

Wikileaks founders face life imprisonment for high-profile leaks of classified material (Image: AP/Reuters)

home secretary Priti Patel has signed an extradition order for Julian Assange
the US is threatened with espionage allegations.

The Home Office has confirmed that it will try to send the Wikileaks founder to America, where he faces life imprisonment after a long court battle.

He is being held in a maximum security unit at Belmarsh Prison and has been in detention since his eviction from the Ecuadorian embassy in 2019.

The Australian national had taken refuge at the country’s London headquarters to avoid being sent to Sweden over sexual assault allegations.

Mr Assange, who has always strenuously denied any wrongdoing, claimed the charges were an excuse to send him to the US.

State prosecutors say his high-profile leaks of classified material endangered life and amounted to espionage, a charge that would carry a life sentence.

For Mr Assange’s supporters, the long-running attempt to jail him is a politically motivated attack on freedom of expression.

His lawyers have argued that the conditions he would be subjected to in a US prison amounted to torture and extradition should be avoided as it would violate his human rights and put him at risk of suicide.

Despite early successes, later court cases tipped the findings in favor of the 50-year-old and paved the way for today’s development.

Mr Assange now has two weeks to appeal the extradition order and could still take his case to the UK Supreme Court.

Wikileaks called the news “a dark day for press freedom and British democracy” and confirmed the order would be appealed.

A statement posted on Twitter read: “Today is not the end of the fight. It’s just the beginning of a new lawsuit. We will appeal through the legal system.’

A spokesman for the department said: “On June 17, after review by the Magistrates Court and the High Court, Mr Julian Assange was ordered to be extradited to the United States. Mr Assange retains the normal 14-day right of appeal.

“In this case, the UK courts have not found that extraditing Mr Assange would be oppressive, unfair or an abuse of process.

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

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Justin Scacco

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