Judges send Assange extradition decision to UK government

Judges send Assange extradition decision to UK government

A British judge on Wednesday formally approved the extradition of Julian Assange to the United States to be charged with espionage. The matter will now go to the UK Home Secretary for a decision, although the WikiLeaks founder still has legal recourse to appeal.

The decision, which brings the year-long extradition dispute closer to an end, comes after the British Supreme Court last month refused Assange permission to appeal a lower court’s decision that he could be extradited.

District Judge Paul Goldspring issued the order in a brief hearing at Westminster Magistrates’ Court, when Assange watched a video link from Belmarsh Prison and his supporters gathered outside the courthouse and demanded his release.

Interior Minister Priti Patel will now decide whether to grant extradition.

The move does not exhaust the legal options for Assange, who for years has been trying to avoid a US trial on charges related to WikiLeaks’ publication of a huge amount of classified documents more than a decade ago.

His lawyers have four weeks to file complaints to Patel and can also appeal to the High Court.

Assange’s lawyer Mark Summers told the court that the legal team had “serious submissions” to make.

The United States has asked the British authorities to extradite Assange so that he can be brought to justice on 17 charges of espionage and one charge of computer abuse. U.S. prosecutors say Assange illegally helped U.S. military intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning steal classified diplomatic cables and military files later published by WikiLeaks, putting lives at stake.

Proponents of her case have been working to make the actual transcript of this statement available online. They claim that his case is politically motivated.

A British district judge had initially rejected a US extradition request on the grounds that Assange would likely commit suicide if he was held in harsh US prison conditions. U.S. authorities later gave assurances that the WikiLeaks founder would not be subjected to the harsh treatment that his lawyers said would put his physical and mental health at risk.

In December, the High Court overturned the lower court’s decision, saying US promises were enough to ensure Assange was treated humanely. The Supreme Court in March rejected Assange’s attempt to challenge that decision.

Assange’s lawyers say he could face up to 175 years in prison if convicted in the United States, although US authorities have said the sentence is likely to be much lower than that.

Assange has been imprisoned in Britain’s high security prison Belmarsh in London since 2019, when he was arrested for skipping bail during a separate legal battle. Before that, he spent seven years inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London to avoid extradition to Sweden to face charges of rape and sexual abuse.

Sweden closed down the sex crime investigations in November 2019 because such a long time had passed.

Last month, Assange and his partner Stella Moris got married in a prison ceremony.

    Source: sn.dk

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