Published: Fri, June 14, 2019
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

United Kingdom signs extradition order for Assange, decision now with courts

United Kingdom signs extradition order for Assange, decision now with courts

The extradition request had been expected ever since US authorities first announced a criminal case against Assange.

On April 11, police forcibly removed the WikiLeaks founder from the Ecuadorean Embassy near Harrods department store in central London.

America has sent Britain a formal request to extradite Julian Assange in a bid to put him on trial for leaking military secrets.

Mr. Assange was accused of sexual assault in late 2010, and he was under house arrest when he entered the Ecuadorian Embassy seeking protection in June 2012.

A department spokesperson told The Washington Times that the USA submitted its request to the United Kingdom government for the extradition of Mr. Assange ahead of a deadline this week to do so.

Assange was initially charged in the United States with a single count of computer intrusion over his work with whistleblower Chelsea Manning. Sweden also seeks him for questioning about an alleged rape, which Assange has denied. The previous indictment alleged that Assange conspired with former USA soldier Chelsea Manning to hack into a US government computer system.

He said the Wikileaks founder Assange is unlikely to win the extradition case against the USA authorities. That indictment, which includes Espionage Act charges, was issued by the Justice Department last month and is pending in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia.

Mr. Assange is a divisive figure, and the case against him in the US has sparked a heated debate about who is a journalist and what constitutes news gathering in the age of social media.

The US official spoke on condition of anonymity because the official wasn't authorised to speak publicly. He is the first person to be prosecuted for publishing under the Espionage Act since its creation more than a century earlier.

However, Manning has now been jailed for refusing to testify before a Virginia-based federal grand jury which is continuing to investigate WikiLeaks. "Some say that Assange is a journalist and that he should be immune from prosecution for these actions", John Demers, the Assistant Attorney-General for National Security, said when the indictment was filed last month.

After his removal from the Ecuadorean Embassy, Assange was jailed by a British court for 50 weeks for jumping bail while being sought by Swedish authorities in the sexual assault case.

Mr Hrafnsson said the charges were "very revealing about the nature of this entire case".

The 47-year-old Australian is not expected to attend Friday's hearing but could take part from prison via video link, although it will be largely procedural.

Julian Assange is receiving a visit from his father and artist Ai Weiwei at Belmarsh prison.

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