Following a public and lengthy legal battle, WikiLeaks chief Julian Assange faces extradition to the U.S. after the UK government approved the transfer on Friday.
Home secretary Priti Patel approved the UK’s decision on Friday morning. According to the BBC, Assange has 14 days to appeal.
“The UK courts have not found that it would be oppressive, unjust or an abuse of process to extradite Mr Assange,” the Home Office said in a statement. “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 U.S. he will be treated appropriately, including in relation to his health.”
In December 2021, the UK’s High Court ruled Assange could be extradited to the U.S. after the U.S. won an appeal over a previous ruling that high risk to Assange’s mental health prevented his extradition.
Assange has been held in the high-security Belmarsh prison since 2019, after he was arrested at the Ecuadorian embassy in London for failing to surrender to the court. His asylum, granted since 2012, was withdrawn by the country, the BBC reported, after then-president Lenin Moreno said Assange violated international conventions on multiple occasions. Assange had previously been granted asylum to avoid extradition to Sweden on 2010 charges of sexual assault (which have since been dropped).
Assange faces espionage charges in the U.S. over WikiLeaks’ publication of classified government documents in 2010 and 2011 and hacking charges over conspiring to break into a computer network of the Pentagon.
“This is a dark day for Press freedom and for British democracy,” wrote WikiLeaks in a statement published on Twitter following the decision.
This story is developing…