U.K. Approves Extradition of Julian Assange to the U.S.
Today a top British government official signed orders to send WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to the U.S. to face espionage and computer fraud charges for his role in publishing top-secret documents sent by military whistleblower Chelsea Manning.
U.K. Home Secretary Priti Patel (essentially their attorney general) approved the extradition orders, issued by a London court back in April, to permit the United States to take custody of Assange and put him on trial for 18 separate charges that have a maximum potential penalty of 175 years in federal prison.
In a statement from WikiLeaks, the organization said, “This is a dark day for Press freedom and for British democracy. Anyone in this country who cares about freedom of expression should be deeply ashamed.”
If the Department of Justice actually follows through and puts Assange on trial, it will be the first time the federal government has attempted to jail an independent publisher rather than a leaker for making classified information available to the public.
Assange has been fighting extradition from London since 2012, initially attempting to evade a Swedish warrant alleging sexual assault (an investigation that subsequently closed). Assange was indicted by the Department of Justice in 2018, and then superseding charges were filed in 2019 accusing him of conspiring with Manning to disclose “national defense information.”
Manning herself served seven years in federal prison for the leaks. She was sentenced to 35 years, but her sentence was commuted by then-Pres
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