Julian Assange Extradition Approved By UK Court, Case Sent To Home Secretary

REUTERS/Tom Nicholson

Mary Rooke Commentary and Analysis Writer
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The years-long battle over Jullian Assange’s extradition to the U.S. was decided in just seven minutes Wednesday by U.K. judge, chief magistrate Paul Goldspring.

The Westminster Magistrates Court judge approved Assange’s surrender to the U.S. government, sending the case to British Home Secretary Priti Patel for the final decision, the BBC reported.

The U.K. judge told Assange during the hearing he had no choice but to pass his case onto Patel to make the final decision on his extradition.

“In layman’s terms, I am duty-bound to send your case to the Secretary of State for a decision,” Goldspring said during the hearing, reported the Scotsman.

Assange faces up to 175 years in a U.S. jail over an alleged conspiracy that he published U.S. national defense secrets related to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars on the WikiLeaks website. The Supreme Court in the U.K. decided last month that the U.S. government’s assurances that he would be treated fairly had met the legal requirement, reported the BBC.

Patel will decide whether to keep Assange in the U.K., including weighing the U.S. government’s promise not to execute him, according to the outlet.

The U.S. vowed not to hold Assange in maximum-security conditions.

During the hearing, Mark Summers, Assange’s U.K. lawyer, announced that Patel would receive “serious submissions” identifying issues with the U.S. treatment of political prisoners.

“You, of course, have no option but to send this case to the Secretary of State,” said Summers, according to the BBC. “It is not for me to raise fresh evidence [at this stage] even though there have been serious developments in this case.”

Goldman told Assange he would have a chance to “appeal” before being sent to the U.S. (RELATED: British Court Rules Julian Assange Can Appeal Extradition To US)

“You have the right to appeal to the High Court, and if you exercise your right to appeal, it will not be heard until [Patel] has made her decision,” Goldman instructed, reported the BBC.

Assange and his legal team have maintained that the leaks were of public interest because the thousands of documents exposed the U.S. government of wrongdoing.