Julian Assange is to appeal against his extradition, after Britain’s Home Secretary Priti Patel (pictured) approved sending him to the US to face trial.
The Wikileaks founder is wanted on 18 counts relating to the publication of leaked military documents relating to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Assange has been held in the high-security HMP Belmarsh in south-east London since 2019, after he was arrested and removed from the Ecuadorian embassy, where he had taken refuge since 2012.
He was sentenced to 50 weeks in prison in May 2019 for breaching his bail conditions while subject to a Swedish arrest warrant, which was subsequently dropped.
District judge Vanessa Baraitser ruled last year that Assange should not be sent to the US as his mental health was “such that it would be oppressive to extradite him”.
But the High Court later found that assurances given to the British government about the conditions in which Assange would be held were “sufficient to meet the concerns which led to the district judge’s decision”.
According to the Law Society Gazette of England and Wales, the Home Office today (17 June) said that Patel had signed an order for Assange’s extradition.
“In this case, 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.
‘Dark day’ for press freedom
“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 US he will be treated appropriately, including in relation to his health,” it added.
Wikileaks described the news as “a dark day for press freedom and for British democracy”, saying that Assange would appeal to the High Court.
“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,” it added.