The Interior Ministry says his extradition has been approved, but Assange can still appeal the decision. WikiLeaks says yes.
British Home Secretary Priti Patel has approved the extradition of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to the United States to face criminal charges, bringing his long legal saga closer to a conclusion.
Assange is wanted by US authorities on 18 counts, including one count of espionage, related to WikiLeaks’ disclosure of vast treasures of confidential US military records and diplomatic cables that Washington says have put lives in danger.
His supporters say he is an anti-establishment hero who was victimized because he exposed US wrongdoing in conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, and that his accusation is a politically motivated attack on journalism and free speech.
The Interior Ministry said on Friday that his extradition had already been approved, but he could still appeal the decision. WikiLeaks said yes.
“In this case, the UK courts did not find it oppressive, unfair or an abuse of process to extradite Assange,” the Home Office said in a statement.
“They also did not find that extradition would be incompatible with his human rights, including his right to a fair trial and freedom of expression, and that while in the US he will be treated properly, including with regard to his health.”
Originally, a British judge ruled that Assange should not be deported, saying his mental health issues meant he would be at risk of suicide if convicted and held in a maximum security prison.
But that was overturned in an appeal after the US gave a package of guarantees, including a promise that he could be transferred to Australia to serve any sentence.
Patel’s decision does not mean the end of the Australian-born Assange’s legal battle that has continued for more than a decade.
He can file an appeal with the High Court in London, which must give its approval for a challenge to continue.
He may ultimately try to take his case to the UK Supreme Court. But if the appeal is denied, Assange must be extradited within 28 days.
Hard to believe, but it feels real. All serious press freedom groups in the world protested against this. It is a terrible symbol of how the British and American governments’ commitment to human rights has waned.
How can we condemn authoritarian abuses abroad like this? https://t.co/sgvLRgZtEg
— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) June 17, 2022
“This is a dark day for freedom of the press and for British democracy,” said Assange’s wife, Stella. “Today is not the end of the fight. It’s just the beginning of a new legal battle.”
Edward Snowden, who fled the US after leaking secret National Security Agency files in 2013 and was granted asylum in Russia, reacted to the news on Twitter, saying, “It’s a terrible symbol of the extent to which the British and American governments’ commitment to human rights has diminished.”
Agnes Callamard, secretary general of Amnesty International, a global rights group, said that “allowing Julian Assange to be extradited to the US would put him at great risk and send a chilling message to journalists around the world.”
“If the extradition proceeds, Amnesty International is extremely concerned that Assange faces a high risk of prolonged solitary confinement, which would violate the ban on torture or other ill-treatment,” she said.
“The diplomatic assurances provided by the US that Assange will not be kept in solitary confinement cannot be taken at face value, given previous history.”