UK government signs extradition of Julian Assange to the US

The British government announced this Friday that it had signed the extradition decree for the founder of WikiLeaks, Julian Assangeto the United States, where they want to judge him for a massive leak of confidential documents.

Wikileaks and those close to Assange announced that they will appeal the decision and regretted a “black day for freedom of the press and British democracy”.

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In April, the British justice issued the formal order to hand over to Washington the founder of WikiLeaksafter a judicial saga of several years, but it was up to the British Home Secretary, Priti Patel, to sign the decree, something she did on Friday.

“Under the 2003 law on extradition, the minister must sign an extradition order if there is no reason that prohibits it”said a spokesman for the Interior Ministry.

According to the spokesman, “the British courts did not conclude that it was oppressive, unfair or a procedural abuse to extradite Mr. Assange. Nor did they conclude that the extradition was incompatible with their rights, including the right to a fair trial, and with freedom of expression and (guaranteed) that during his stay in the United States he will be treated appropriately, also with regard to his health.”

The United States wants to try him for espionage and could sentence him to up to 175 years in prison if he is found guilty of publishing on WikiLeaks beginning in 2010 some 700,000 secret US military and diplomatic documents, mostly on Iraq and Afghanistan.

Assange was imprisoned in 2019 in London’s high-security Belmarsh prison after the British police arrested him at the Ecuadorian embassy in London, once then-president Lenín Moreno withdrew the protection granted him by his predecessor Rafael Correa.

Violating the conditions of your parole in the UK, the WikiLeaks founder took refuge in the Ecuadorian legation in 2012 to avoid being extradited to Sweden on rape charges that were later dropped.

Denying these charges, he already stated that he feared that everything was a strategy to hand him over to the United States.

The “start of a new battle”

In January 2021, the British justice decided in his favor: judge Vanessa Baraitser rejected extradition on the grounds that the Australian, in fragile physical and psychological health, was at risk of committing suicide in the US prison system.

But in December 2021, Washington managed to get the London High Court to annul that decision.assuring that he would not be imprisoned in the ADX high-security prison in Florence, Colorado, where members of the jihadist organization Al Qaeda are being held.

Y They guaranteed that he would receive the necessary clinical and psychological care, even mentioning the possibility of allowing him to serve his sentence in his native Australia.

Organizations defending press freedom, such as Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and Amnesty International oppose this extradition because they fear that Assange will be subjected to solitary confinement in prison that would increase the risk of suicide.

For Agnès Callamard, secretary general of Amnesty, the extradition of Assange it risks putting him “in great danger and would send a terrifying message to journalists around the world.”

Stella Assange, a lawyer and Assange’s wife, had asked the British government not to sign the extradition decree to the United States.

“Any country that cares about freedom of expression should be ashamed to see that the Home Secretary has approved the extradition of Julian Assange to the United States, the country that plotted to assassinate him,” he said in a statement Friday.

“Julian has done nothing wrong. He has not committed any crime, he is not a criminal. He is a journalist, an editor and he is punished for having done his job, ”said the lawyer, whom she married in March, and with whom she has two children, conceived during her stay. Assange at the Ecuadorian embassy in London.

Stella Assange guaranteed that it is not the end of the battle but “the beginning of a new legal battle.”

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