Britain orders WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s extradition to the US

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The British authorities on Friday ordered WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s extradition to the US to face espionage and hacking expenses. Assange has 14 days to enchantment the choice, the British Dwelling Workplace mentioned.

Assange has been held in a London jail since 2019, after seven years evading arrest by in search of political asylum within the Ecuadoran Embassy.

His attorneys argued that he was at excessive threat of suicide beneath the restrictions he may face whereas in U.S. custody.

The Dwelling Workplace mentioned in an announcement that “the UK courts haven’t discovered that it could be oppressive, unjust or an abuse of course of to extradite Mr Assange. Nor have they discovered that extradition can be incompatible along with his human rights, together with his proper to a good trial and to freedom of expression, and that while within the US he will probably be handled appropriately, together with in relation to his well being.”

Priti Patel, the British house secretary, signed the extradition order. The house secretary is the last authority on extradition within the British system — though Assange has different authorized avenues he can pursue to dam the transfer, and consultants say his arrival in the US is much from imminent.

The Dwelling Workplace mentioned Assange “will solely be surrendered to the requesting state when all avenues of authorized problem are exhausted.”

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange charged with violating Espionage Act

In an announcement, the WikiLeaks group condemned the choice to extradite as “a darkish day for press freedom and for British democracy,” calling the house secretary “an confederate of the US in its agenda to show investigative journalism right into a prison enterprise.”

The group mentioned Assange’s authorized group will enchantment: “In the present day is just not the top of the combat. It’s only the start of a brand new authorized battle. We’ll enchantment by the authorized system, the following enchantment will probably be earlier than the Excessive Court docket. We’ll combat louder and shout tougher on the streets, we’ll set up and we’ll make Julian’s story be identified to all.”

Earlier than his extradition, Assange may ask Britain’s highest court docket to listen to extra arguments, or he may pursue an enchantment within the European Court docket of Human Rights. Every court docket must agree to listen to Assange’s enchantment, which isn’t assured.

As a part of the extradition proceedings, the highest British court docket in December accepted the U.S. authorities’s assurances about particular security measures it could implement for Assange. The court docket refused to listen to Assange’s enchantment on that time in March.

A grand jury in Virginia indicted Assange on 18 counts, together with conspiracy and disclosure of nationwide protection data. Prosecutors allege that he labored with former Military personal Chelsea Manning in 2010 to acquire and publish hundreds of pages of army information and diplomatic cables concerning the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The discharge of the data, officers have alleged, put lives at risk. Assange says he was inside his rights as a journalist and writer in in search of out and disseminating data on controversial U.S. actions.

In January 2021, a British trial decide halted Assange’s extradition, discovering him “a depressed and typically despairing man, who’s genuinely fearful about his future,” and at excessive threat of suicide within the solitary or extremely restrictive situations he may face in U.S. custody.

The U.S. authorities then provided to not impose “particular administrative measures” on Assange, and to maintain him out of the federal supermax jail in Florence, Colo., pending trial, until he did one thing sooner or later to benefit such restrictions. The U.S. authorities mentioned it could let Assange serve his sentence in Australia if he have been convicted, and Australia agreed to it. The federal government additionally provided to offer him with scientific and psychological remedy, following medical suggestions, whereas he remained in custody.

Primarily based on these assurances, the British excessive court docket allowed the extradition to proceed, noting that “the UK and the USA have a protracted historical past of cooperation in extradition issues, and the USA has up to now steadily supplied, and invariably fulfilled, assurances.” The court docket additionally famous {that a} witness that Assange’s group known as in the course of the proceedings had conceded that the Alexandria Detention Middle, the place Assange is perhaps held in Virginia pending trial, was a well-run jail with “a stellar file” on stopping suicide.

Nick Vamos, a London-based extradition skilled, mentioned that Patel’s choice was not likely unsure after the courts’ rulings as a result of “she has very slim discretion as soon as the case has been despatched to her.”

However Assange nonetheless might persuade the next court docket to weigh his arguments that the U.S. prosecution is politically motivated and an infringement on his freedom of speech, Vamos mentioned, predicting this “received’t be the top of the street for some time.”

Karla Adam contributed to this report.

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