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WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange could be extradited to the US, says British Home Secretary

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British Home Secretary Priti Patel has approved a US request to extradite WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. patel signed the order on June 17bringing Assange one step closer to US espionage charges.

Assange’s legal counsel plans to appeal the decision to the British Supreme Court. “This is a dark day for freedom of the press and for British democracy,” says WikiLeaks said in a statement† “Julian has done nothing wrong.”

Patel’s approval follows a string of legal losses for Assange. In December, the British Supreme Court upheld Assange’s extradition and concluded that US authorities had credibly promised humane treatment in the US prison system. He was later refused an appeal by the British Supreme Court, leaving a judge to refer to the final decision to Patel. In the US, Assange would face 17 charges for violating the Espionage Act and one for violating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, as a result of his work with whistleblower Chelsea Manning to publish classified US military documents. The claims carry a theoretical maximum of 175 years in prison, but the US government has said it wants a much shorter sentence.

Assange’s ongoing case has raised the alarm over the legal status of journalists and whistleblowers. Groups like Amnesty International and Reporters Without Borders have previously called on the US government to drop charges, warning that prosecutions could have a chilling effect on journalists’ willingness to publish newsworthy leaked documents. Assange’s leaks, published in conjunction with several mainstream news outlets, revealed a wealth of details on the activities of many governments, including the US.

Assange has been in prison since 2019 and previously spent seven years in the Ecuadorian embassy in London. His defense team has argued that prison conditions in the US would worsen physical and mental health deteriorates which he had already dealt with during his captivity. US authorities have promised that Assange will not be placed in a high-security ‘supermax’ prison after his extradition, and if convicted, he could choose to serve his sentence in his home country of Australia.


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