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UK approves Julian Assange extradition to the US to face hacking and espionage charges

Alexandra Ma,Catherine Neilan   

UK approves Julian Assange extradition to the US to face hacking and espionage charges
  • The UK has approved the request to extradite Julian Assange to the US.
  • The WikiLeaks founder faces 18 charges in the US, including allegations of hacking and spying.

The UK has approved Julian Assange's extradition to the US, where the WikiLeaks founder faces hacking and espionage charges, the UK Home Office confirmed Friday.

Assange faces 18 charges in the US, where he is accused of conspiring to hack government computers and breaching the Espionage Act when WikiLeaks published a trove of confidential military and diplomatic documents in 2010. He faces up to 175 years in prison if he is convicted.

WikiLeaks said in a statement shortly after the Home Office decision was published that Assange was appealing the decision. The Home Office had given him 14 days to do so.

"This is a dark day for press freedom and for British democracy," WikiLeaks said, describing UK Home Secretary Priti Patel as an "accomplice" in what it called a US "agenda to turn investigative journalism into a criminal enterprise."

"The path to Julian's freedom is long and tortuous. Today is not the end of the fight. It is only the beginning of a new legal battle," it said.

"We will fight louder and shout harder on the streets, we will organize and we will make Julian's story be known to all."

Assange previously argued he was at risk of suicide and self-harm in the US.

But a Home Office representative said in a statement seen by Insider that the UK courts had "not found that it would be oppressive, unjust, or an abuse of process to extradite Mr. Assange."

"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," the statement continued.

Assange lived in Ecuador's embassy in London as an asylum seeker from 2012 — after he lost an extradition case to Sweden — to April 2019, when Ecuador withdrew its protection of him and the police dragged him out of the building. He was then taken to prison in the UK, and the US requested his extradition.

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