UK Home Sec kick-starts USA request to extradite ex-WikiLeaker Assange

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A request by the United States to extradite Julian Assange has been signed by the Home Secretary Sajid Javid ahead of a court hearing on Friday.

Assange, 47, is accused of conspiring to hack USA government computers and violating an espionage law.

When the decision was upheld by the Supreme Court in May 2012, Assange sought refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy.

Javid's certifying of the United States extradition request lodged this week is the first formal step in having Assange sent across the pond. We've got a legitimate extradition request so I have signed it.

Assange's lawyer Jennifer Robinson told the ABC the signing of the order was a normal part of the process and the extradition challenge now begins.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange leaves Southwark Crown Court after being sentenced in London, Britain, May 1, 2019.


Back in April, Assange was arrested after Ecuador withdrew his political asylum status.

Sweden had also been looking to extradite Assange as it reopened the 2010 rape case, but a court in Uppsala recently ruled that he did not need to be detained, meaning prosecutors can't apply for an extradition warrant right now. The Australian national had been given refuge in the South American country's London embassy in 2012 while on bail in the United Kingdom over charges of sexual assault and rape in Sweden. The next hearing in the Australian former computer hacker's case is on Friday.

The "first real confrontation of arguments" in court will not be for several weeks or months, according to WikiLeaks editor Kristinn Hrafnsson.

Assange is now serving a 50-week sentence in Belmarsh Prison in south-east London for bail violations after taking refuge in the Ecuadorian Embassy in a bid to avoid extradition to Sweden to face rape charges in 2012.

That case has been dropped, but he now faces 18 charges relating to publishing secret material from USA military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The 18 charges against Mr Assange reject his claim he was simply a publisher receiving leaked material - which would be protected under press freedom legislation.

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