London authorizes extradition of Julian Assange to the United States

The British government on Friday approved the extradition of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to the US, saying it believed he deserved a fair trial across the Atlantic.

Posted at 12:05 p.m

Marc Thibodeau

Marc Thibodeau
The press

Home Secretary Priti Patel officially approved April’s order against the notorious whistleblower, marking a key step in a long series of legal twists and turns.

She ignored advice from a group of several hundred doctors who wrote to her last week asking them not to be complicit in the “slow-motion execution” of the Australian national.

Doctors for Assange members pointed out that the 50-year-old suffered a “mini heart attack” while in custody in October 2021 and was suffering from mental health issues that put him at serious risk of suicide if extradited.

Those concerns had prompted a lower court to reject the US application, but the decision was overturned on appeal after Washington gave assurances on how he would be treated.

The Home Office specifically recalled those assurances on Friday, stressing that the courts had rejected the notion that it was “unfair” or “abusive” to extradite Julian Assange.

His legal team has 14 days to appeal the decision.

Espionage allegations from 2010

The WikiLeaks founder has faced a string of espionage charges in the United States for his involvement in obtaining confidential documents about American military actions in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as thousands of diplomatic cables, from ex-military officer Chelsea Manning.

Former President Barack Obama’s administration, deeply embarrassed by the release of the diplomatic cables, had given up pursuing him, but the administration of his successor, Donald Trump, brushed aside these reservations.

The current President of the United States, Joe Biden, has not changed course despite strong pleas from supporters of Julian Assange to drop the indictment and extradition request.

Julian Assange’s wife, Stella Moris, said in an online news conference on Friday that the minister’s decision risked having “extremely serious consequences” for her wife and for the journalistic profession in general.

She warned that even as legal backlash mounts and potential remedies are virtually exhausted, the battle is “far from lost.”


PHOTO JONATHAN BRADY, ASSOCIATED PRESS

Stella Moris, Friday, at a press conference

I will spend every waking hour fighting until Julian is free and justice is done.

Stella Moris, wife of Assange

WikiLeaks executives also tweeted that they would remain firmly opposed to the US extradition request.

The United States, she denounced, is seeking revenge for the war crimes denounced by Julian Assange “by trying to shut him down in the darkest corners of their prison system” while preventing anyone else from confining him.

Support also came from politicians in the UK and abroad.

Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who leads a coalition of left-wing parties expected to do well in the second round of France’s general election, has promised to naturalize Julian Assange if he becomes prime minister.

The recently formed new Australian government stressed that the case against the whistleblower “has taken too long and must be brought to an end” without specifically asking the American judiciary to waive the extradition.


PHOTO TIMOTHY A. CLARY, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Julian Assange’s father, John Shipton (right), and his brother, Gabriel Shipton, stood outside the British Embassy in New York on Friday and called on the United States to drop the charges and the extradition request.

Julian Assange says he has been afraid of being sent to the US for years. He also gave this reason in 2012 when he justified his decision to seek refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in London.

The founder of WikiLeaks, who was then facing an extradition request from Sweden over unsolved allegations of sexual assault, feared that the Scandinavian country would extradite him to US authorities.

He was eventually arrested by British forces with the consent of Ecuador in 2019 and held in custody for violating conditions before becoming the target of a US extradition request.

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