Following a British court ruling in April, the Home Secretary of the UK, Priti Patel, has signed WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s extradition order to the United States, where he would face espionage and spying charges. A British judge had previously approved his extradition back in April, after which the final decision was left to the government.
According to the Home Office, UK courts believe that it won’t be oppressive, unjust or an abuse of process to extradite Assange. WikiLeaks seems to think otherwise, as evident by its tweet saying that the decision will be appealed, labelling the announcement a “dark day for press freedom”. Assange has 14 days to appeal the decision.
The US has been after Assange for years since he leaked documents in 2010 and 2011 revealing how the US military had killed hundreds of civilians in various unreported incidents during the Afghanistan War. Leaked documents about the Iraq war revealed that over 66,000 civilians were killed in addition to prisoner torture by Iraqi forces.
Assange faces 17 charges of espionage and one charge of computer misuse for leaking these documents. The US claims that he illegally helped US Army Intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning steal classified information, later published on WikiLeaks, endangering lives.
His layers and supporters, on the other hand, claimed that the leaked documents showed US wrongdoing in the Middle East and hence were in the public interest.
Assange had sought asylum at the Ecuadorian embassy in London in 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden following charges of rape and sexual assault. Sweden dropped these charges in November 2019 because a lot of time had elapsed.
In 2019, he was removed from the embassy and arrested by the British police for skipping bail over a different legal issue. Since then, Assange has been held at Britain’s high-security Belmarsh Prison in London.
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