The UK government has agreed to extradite WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to the US by Priti Patel, the UK Home Secretary.
Assange could be extradited to the United States just weeks after Priti Patel signed an order agreeing to send him to Virginia to face espionage charges and a possible 175-year prison sentence.
The Home Secretary has signed the order of a judge in Westminster Magistrates’ Court to move the WikiLeaks founder to America, where he will be handed over to federal agents and tried. Assange, who is currently being held at Belmarsh Maximum Security Prison in southeast London, has 14 days to appeal.
WikiLeaks announced that this was not the end of the battle. She vowed to return to court to try to keep him in Britain, claiming that today was a dark day for press freedom and British democracy. She also accused Patel of choosing not to do the right thing.
And if any appeal is rejected in the coming weeks, there will be no more obstacles for him to fly to America, possibly in July.
His wife, Stella Morris, said: ‘The Home Secretary has agreed to send Julian to the country that planned to kill him. We are using every avenue to appeal this decision. I devote all my time to fighting for justice until it is set free.
A spokesman for the Ministry of Interior said in a statement: Under the Extradition Act 2003, the Minister of Interior is required to sign an extradition order if there are no reasons why the order should not be issued. The UK courts did not find in this case that it would have been unfair or an abuse of proceedings to extradite Assange
“The extradition does not conflict with Assange’s human rights, including his right to a fair trial and freedom of expression,” he added. While in the United States, he shall be treated appropriately, including in relation to his health.
The announcement was expected after a British court issued a formal extradition order for the WikiLeaks founder in April, a necessary legal step required before the government can act.
WikiLeaks founder could face up to 175 years in prison
The Ministry of Interior spokesperson said: Extradition requests are not sent to the Minister of Interior until after the judge decides that they can go ahead after considering various aspects of the case. On June 17, after consideration by both the Court of Justices and the Supreme Court, an order was issued to extradite Julian Assange to the United States. Assange reserves the right to normal appeal for a period of 14 days.
Assange’s team had the opportunity to provide information to influence Patel after the previous trial. But that seems to have failed to move her.
However, the matter is not necessarily the last word on the case. Assange’s legal team is expected to appeal within the allowed 14-day period, likely on the basis of freedom of expression and whether the matter was politically motivated.
It is not unprecedented that such appeals have succeeded either. British pirate Laurie Love won an appeal against his extradition to the United States on human rights grounds, arguing that it would have worsened Asperger’s condition.
WikiLeaks said in a statement: “Anyone in this country who cares about freedom of expression should be ashamed that the Home Secretary has agreed to extradite Assange to the country that planned his assassination.” Julian did nothing wrong. He did not commit a crime and is not a criminal. A journalist and publisher is punished for doing his job. Patel could have done the right thing. Instead, she is remembered as a partner of the United States in its agenda to turn investigative journalism into a criminal enterprise. Assange faces a political case as there is an attempt to hide him in the prison system for the rest of his life to deter others from holding governments to account. We will not let that happen. Julian’s freedom coupled with all our freedoms. We are fighting to get Julian back into his family and to restore freedom of speech to all of us.