British Home Secretary signs USA extradition order for Julian Assange

British Home Secretary signs USA extradition order for Julian Assange

Britain's Home Secretary Sajid Javid revealed on Thursday that he had signed a request for the extradition of Assange to the United States, where he is accused of violating the Espionage Act.

After Assange was sentenced to 50 weeks in prison for skipping bail, the U.S. charged him with 17 new counts under the espionage act, which followed a previous charge of conspiring with former intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to gain access to the Pentagon network. It is nearly certain Assange will file an appeal to the High Court after the district judge's ruling, and again (as the law allows) after the Home Secretary's final decision.

Swedish prosecutors had dropped their rape investigation in 2017 but reopened it after Ecuador withdrew its offer of asylum to Mr. Assange in April this year and allowed Scotland Yard to arrest him.

The Home Secretary said this morning: "The final decision is now with the courts". "But yesterday I signed the extradition order and certified it and that will be going in front of the courts tomorrow".

The 47-year-old is now being held in London's high-security Belmarsh prison after he was jailed for 50 weeks by a United Kingdom court for breaching his bail by hiding out in the Ecuadorian embassy.

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UK Home Secretary Sajid Javid said he signed the papers on Wednesday, a day after the U.S. Justice Department formally asked Britain to extradite the 47-year-old Australian.

Assange's initial indictment sparked a debate over the First Amendment and whether his alleged role in procuring secret US material constituted protected journalistic activity.

U.S. has accused Julian Assange of violating the Espionage Act by publishing military and diplomatic files.

The likelihood of Assange being sent to Sweden rather than the US falls with every step the USA authorities make, as the harder it becomes for the Home Secretary to give precedence to their competing request. That case has been dropped, but he now faces 18 charges relating to publishing secret material from USA military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The 18 charges against Assange reject his claim he was simply a publisher receiving leaked material, which would be protected under press freedom legislation.