The UK’s home secretary has given the go-ahead for Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, to be extradited from London to the US to stand trial on charges of acting illegally in obtaining and publishing classified documents.
Priti Patel signed the extradition order after the High Court ruled last year that Assange, who has been held in a London prison since 2019, could be extradited. Assange now has 14 days to appeal.
The US wants Assange to face trial on one charge of computer hacking and 17 charges of violating the 1917 Espionage Act, relating to one of the biggest leaks of classified material in history. If found guilty, Assange would face up to 175 years in jail.
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The US charges stem from WikiLeaks’ publication in 2010 of a huge cache of secret documents passed to him by Chelsea Manning, a former US military intelligence analyst.
The trove included 90,000 reports relating to the war in Afghanistan, 400,000 relating to the Iraq war and 250,000 US diplomatic cables.
Stella Assange, his wife, called it a “dark day for press freedom and for British democracy”. She said: “Today is not the end of the fight. It is only the beginning of a new legal battle. We will appeal through the legal system; the next appeal will be before the High Court.”
The Home Office said on Friday: “The UK courts have not found that it would be oppressive, unjust or an abuse of process to extradite Mr Assange.”