US Justice Department Delivers Assange's Extradition Request to UK Authorities

Lester Mason
June 14, 2019

Julian Assange, pictured leaving the Ecuadorian Embassy on April 11, is facing possible extradition to the United States where officials want to charge him for leaking secrets.

British Home Secretary Sajid Javid told the BBC that the final decision on Mr Assange's extradition would be up to the court.

Mr Assange will face charges that he conspired to hack government computers and violated an espionage law.

Assange was initially charged in the USA with a single count of computer intrusion over his work with whistleblower Chelsea Manning. Sweden subsequently reopened the rape probe and sought his extradition; it had dropped the charge and cancelled the warrant in May 2017.

Assange published the documents on WikiLeaks with unredacted names of sources who gave information to United States forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. A European government source familiar with British extradition procedures said it could take anywhere from two to five years for the US request for Assange's extradition to be resolved.

The Australian-born computer programmer and activist is being sought to face charges in federal court in Northern Virginia that he worked with former Army specialist Chelsea Manning to unlawfully obtain and publish hundreds of thousands of reports about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq as well as conditions within the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Mr. Assange is a divisive figure, and the case against him in the USA has sparked a heated debate about who is a journalist and what constitutes news gathering in the age of social media.

U.S. Justice officials have insisted that Mr. Assange is not a journalist and that the case doesn't impede freedom of the press.

However, Manning has now been jailed for refusing to testify before a Virginia-based federal grand jury which is continuing to investigate WikiLeaks.

During a media briefing Tuesday in London, Mr. Hrafnsson said the case against Mr. Assange strikes at the heart of what journalists do: obtain information, or encourage others to provide information, and then publish the contents.

Assange is now serving 50 weeks imprisonment sentence in UK's Belmarsh prison for skipping bail to avoid being sent to Sweden over sexual assault allegations. He is the first person to be prosecuted for publishing under the Espionage Act since its creation more than a century earlier. "Some say that Assange is a journalist and that he should be immune from prosecution for these actions", John Demers, the Assistant Attorney-General for National Security, said when the indictment was filed last month. I doubt it, ' Mr Hrafnsson said.

Julian Assange's father has paid his first visit to his son since he was jailed at the Belmarsh prison in London.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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