Judge sends Julian Assange’s extradition decision to UK government
A British judge on Wednesday formally approved the extradition of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to the United States to face spying charges. The case will now go to Britain’s Home Secretary Priti Patel for the final decision by May 18. Assange can appeal to the Home Secretary. The order, which brings extradition closer, comes after the UK Supreme Court last month refused Assange permission to appeal against a lower court’s ruling that he could be extradited.
A judge at Westminster Magistrates’ Court issued the order in a brief hearing, as Assange watched by video link from Belmarsh Prison. Home Secretary Priti Patel will now decide whether to grant the extradition. Assange’s lawyers have four weeks to make submissions to Patel, and can also seek to appeal to the High Court. Assange lawyer Mark Summers told the court that the legal team had “serious submissions” to make.
WikiLeaks tweeted on the developments after the British Judge’s decision to extradite:
BREAKING: A UK judge has ordered the extradition of Julian Assange to the US where he will face a 175 year sentence for publishing
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) April 20, 2022
The US has asked British authorities to extradite Assange so he can stand trial on 17 charges of espionage and one charge of computer misuse. American prosecutors say Assange unlawfully helped US Army intelligence analyst Bradley Manning in 2009 to steal classified diplomatic cables and military files that WikiLeaks later published, putting lives at risk. Bradley Manning who was in prison got converted to female and adopted the name, Chelsea Manning. In 2016, President Barack Obama gave Presidential Pardon to Chelsea Manning.
Supporters and lawyers for Assange, 50, argue that he was acting as a journalist and is entitled to First Amendment protections of freedom of speech for publishing documents that exposed US Military wrongdoing in Iraq and Afghanistan. They argue that his case is politically motivated. Assange’s lawyers say he could face up to 175 years in jail if he is convicted in the U.S., though American authorities have said the sentence was likely to be much lower than that.
Assange has been held at Britain’s high-security Belmarsh Prison 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 allegations of rape and sexual assault. Three years ago when the regime changed in Ecuador, he was handed over to the British.
Sweden dropped the sex crimes investigations in November 2019 because so much time had elapsed. Last month, Assange and his partner Stella Moris married in a prison ceremony.
 Julian Assange can be extradited from UK to US: London High Court – Dec 10, 2021, PGurus.com
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