British Government Approves Extradition of Julian Assange to US

The British Home Secretary Priti Patel has agreed to the extradition of Julian Assange who is wanted by the US on conspiracy charges under the Espionage Act.

Wikileaks founder Assange had been in Belmarsh high security prison in England since 2019 after he was arrested by the British authorities for conspiracy to commit computer intrusion by attempting to hack into the government’s system under the guise of journalism.

The Australian national is also wanted by the US authorities for leaking delicate government documents relating to the conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan in 2010 and 2011 which the US says broke the law and endangered lives.

The documents provided details about action taken by the US military resulting in the death of thousands of civilians. The US justice department has filed 17 charges against Assange for violating the Espionage Act.

He has always denied any wrongdoings and his lawyers say they will be taking advantage of the 14 days he has been given to launch an appeal to stop the extradition from taking place:

“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,” said Wikileaks in a statement.

The news outlet added that it was a “a dark day for press freedom and for British democracy”.

Anyone in this country who cares about freedom of expression should be deeply ashamed that the home secretary has approved the extradition of Julian Assange to the United States, the country that plotted his assassination”. 

UK judges previously said that extraditing Assange to the US could render him a suicide risk due to his ailing mental health, but this decision has since been overturned.

Meanwhile, left-wing human rights action group Amnesty International has said Britain handing Assange over to US authorities “would put him at great risk and sends a chilling message to journalists”.

Diplomatic assurances provided by the US that Assange will not be kept in solitary confinement cannot be taken on face value given previous history,” said Amnesty’s general secretary Agnes Callamard.

British Home Secretary Priti Patel said Britain is right to comply with the US’s request for Assange to be shipped to the States because he does not face the death penalty and the US prison system is humane:

In this case, the UK courts have not found that it would be oppressive, unjust or an abuse of process to extradite Mr Assange. Nor have they found that extradition would be incompatible with his human rights, including his right to a fair trial and to freedom of expression, and that whilst in the US he will be treated appropriately, including in relation to his health,” said Patel in a statement.

If Assange’s legal team does not get a response from the UK courts quickly enough, he could take his appeal to the European Court on Human Rights. Although the ECHR ruled that his extradition did not breach the Wikileaks founders’ rights ten years ago, a fresh hearing now may produce a different result.

This story syndicated with permission from Jo Marney, Author at Trending Politics

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