Wikileaks Founders – Another step towards Assange’s extradition

The UK government has approved the extradition of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange to the US. This was confirmed by the Home Office in London on Friday. Home Secretary Priti Patel signed a statement to that effect. A court in London had previously approved Assange’s extradition. The US judiciary wants to put Assange on trial for allegations of espionage. He faces up to 175 years in prison if convicted.

The United States accuses Assange of various crimes, including violating an espionage law. Together with whistleblower Chelsea Manning, he is said to have stolen and published classified material from US military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, thereby endangering the lives of US informants. His supporters, on the other hand, see him as an investigative journalist who has brought war crimes to light and who is now to be made an example of.

At the end of last year, the High Court in London lifted an extradition ban on Assange that had previously been issued because of the risk of suicide. It was said at the time that his safety was adequately taken care of. The Supreme Court had recently rejected an appeal.

Assange has been in extradition custody since 2019 and had previously been holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London for seven years. After years of back and forth in various courts, it was the British government’s turn on Friday. It was initially unclear whether and when the 50-year-old Australian would be extradited. According to his supporters, legal recourse has not yet been exhausted. They fear that he will be sent to a maximum security prison, despite assurances from Washington to the contrary.

“Start of a new legal battle”

“Mr Assange has the right to appeal within the usual 14-day period,” the Home Office said. Assange now has the option to challenge his extradition in the High Court, which Wikileaks says he will do. Should he fail to do so, he would still have to go before the highest British court, the Supreme Court. If the judges give the green light for extradition, Assange must be flown to the USA no later than 28 days later. “This is a dark day for press freedom and for British democracy,” said Assange’s wife Stella. “The fight doesn’t end today. It’s just the beginning of a new legal battle.” The 50-year-old has been trying for years to prevent his extradition by legal means.

In 2010, Assange published secret US reports and diplomatic cables via his WikiLeaks disclosure platform, which he received from informants. Since then, the United States has described him as a public enemy who endangered the lives of other people. For his followers, however, he is a hero who exposed abuse of power and misconduct by the USA in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

If the judges give the green light for extradition, Assange must be flown to the United States no later than 28 days later. “This is a dark day for press freedom and for British democracy,” said Assange’s wife Stella. “The fight doesn’t end today. It’s just the beginning of a new legal battle.”

The 50-year-old has been trying for years to prevent his extradition by legal means. At the beginning of 2021, a British court rejected the transfer to the USA because Assange was suicidal. In December, however, this decision was overturned. It was said at the time that his safety was adequately taken care of. He has been in British extradition custody since 2019 and had previously holed himself up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London for seven years. (apa, dpa, reu)

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