UK Judge Approves Julian Assange’s Extradition To US

A UK judge has formally approved Wikileaks founder Julian Assange’s extradition to the United States on Wednesday.

The extradition order was issued at London’s Westminster Magistrates’ Court in a brief hearing, as Assange watched by video link from Belmarsh Prison.

The request was then forwarded to Interior Minister Priti Patel for final approval.

Last month, the UK Supreme Court last refused to give Assange permission to appeal against a lower court’s ruling that he could be extradited.

Assange still has means to appeal the decision, as he has sought for years to avoid a trial in the U.S.

According to the BBC, Assange’s lawyers have four weeks to submit arguments to Patel against his extradition. They also have the option to appeal the case to a higher court, but there is no guarantee the case would be heard.

Assange has been charged with 17 counts of espionage and one count of computer misuse. There are also claims he helped U.S. Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning illegally obtain sensitive U.S. documents.

Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison in 2010. President Barack Obama commuted Manning’s sentence, leading to Manning’s release the same year.

Assange’s supporters argue that he was acting as a journalist and is entitled to First Amendment protections of freedom of speech.

He has been held at Britain’s high-security Belmarsh Prison in London since 2019. His lawyers say Assange could face up to 175 years in jail if he is convicted in the U.S., but authorities have said the sentence will be much lower.

Assange was also facing allegations of rape and sexual assault in Sweden, but the investigations were dropped in November 2019 because so much time had elapsed.