British Government Signs Extradition Order For Julian Assange To Face Espionage Charges In US

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Kay Smythe News and Commentary Writer
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British Home Secretary Priti Patel signed an extradition order Friday against Wikileaks founder Julian Assange so he can be returned to the United States to face espionage charges.

Assange has 14 days to appeal the order, according to a statement from the Home Office. Should Assange be brought back to the US, he faces a maximum sentence of 175 years in prison.

“The UK courts have not found that it would be oppressive, unjust or an abuse of process to extradite Mr Assange. 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,” the Home Office wrote in their statement.

Assange played an alleged role in “one of the largest compromises of classified information in the history of the United States,” the Department of Justice wrote in 2020. The charges filed in 2020 expand upon 18 counts filed in May 2019, broadening the scope of the conspiracy surrounding alleged hacking.

“Assange conspired with Army Intelligence Analyst Chelsea Manning to crack a password hash to a classified U.S. Department of Defense computer,” the DOJ alleged.

Manning was convicted and sentenced in 2013 for releasing hundreds of thousands of diplomatic cables to Wikileaks and has refused to testify about the leak in the past. Then-President Barack Obama commuted Manning’s sentence in 2017.

“This is not the end of the road, and we will use every appeal mechanism available to us to prevent this extradition,” Assange’s legal counsel Jennifer Robinson told a press conference.

“This is a dark day for Press freedom and for British democracy,” Wikileaks wrote in a statement shared to Twitter. “Julian did nothing wrong. He has committed no crime and is not a criminal. He is a journalist and a publisher, and he is being punished for doing his job,” the statement continued.

Assange is currently being held in Belmarsh high-security prison in London, CNN reported. He was removed from the Ecuadorian embassy in London three years ago, where he had sought refuge for seven years prior, the outlet continued. Ecuador withdrew his privileges in 2019, with former Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa corroborating claims that Assange displayed unhealthy hygiene and aggressive behavior. (RELATED: Ecuador Orders Julian Assange To Babysit Cat And Clean The Bathroom For Internet Privileges)

Friday’s decision by Patel goes against a 2021 ruling by a magistrate’s court that found Assange could not be extradited as it would be “oppressive” to his mental health, the outlet noted.

Wikileaks did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller’s request for comment.