TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Australia will not challenge the extradition of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange to the United States and has confidence in the British legal system, a senior government official said on Thursday.
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A British court on Wednesday issued a formal decision to extradite the Australian citizen to the United States, where he will be brought to justice for publishing a number of secret files relating to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
If convicted, he risks up to 175 years in prison.
“We have confidence in the independence and integrity of the British legal system,” Australian Senator Simon Birmingham told national television broadcaster ABC on Thursday.
The Australian government did not argue against the extradition, he said, AFP reported.
“This is a process that will be able to continue to work through that system,” said Birmingham, Australia’s finance minister.
Following the order of the British court, Assange’s lawyers have until May 18 to submit comments to the British Home Secretary Priti Patel, with whom the final decision on his extradition rests.
Birmingham noted that Assange’s right of appeal remained – he can appeal to the High Court – and said Australia would continue to provide consular assistance to its imprisoned citizens.
A coalition of 25 human rights groups – including the American Civil Liberties Union, Human Rights Watch and Reporters without Borders – has questioned Assange’s extradition, saying it poses a “serious threat to press freedom both in the United States and abroad.”
The Australian has been fighting to avoid extradition for more than a decade and dramatically took refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in London in 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden due to allegations of sexual abuse.
He has been imprisoned in London’s high security prison Belmarsh since 2019 for skipping the bail for the Swedish accusations, which were dropped in 2020.