UK Home Secretary approves extradition of Assange to US
The extradition of WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange to the US moved a step forward on Friday after British Home Secretary Priti Patel gave the green light to hand the transparency activist over to American custody.
“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. “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.”
Julian Assange has 14 days to appeal.
WikiLeaks called the development a “dark day for Press freedom and for British democracy,” and added that “the decision will be appealed.”
Previously, a British court had refused the extradition request on the grounds that Assange may otherwise kill himself or be subjected to inhumane treatment in US detention. But the US successfully appealed the ruling, offering Britain assurances that his rights would be observed.
Supporters of the jailed activist say he is being persecuted for exposing the American government’s dark secrets and that his demise was meant as a chilling warning to any journalist who would think of doing the same.
“It was [in] Priti Patel’s power to do the right thing. Instead she will forever be remembered as an accomplice of the United States in its agenda to turn investigative journalism into a criminal enterprise,” WikiLeaks said in a statement.
WikiLeaks said it will continue to fight for Assange through the legal system to protect him from being disappeared in “the darkest recesses of [the US] prison system for the rest of his life.” The US wants the 50-year-old Australian for alleged crimes, and if convicted he may be sentenced to up to 175 years in prison.