WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange should be sent to the US to face criminal espionage charges, the British government ruled.
Assange now has 14 days to launch an appeal against the decision, after which he will be extradited across the pond where he will face spying charges.
He is wanted by US authorities on 18 counts, including espionage.
UK’s Home Secretary Priti Patel signed the extradition order on Friday. This follows a British court ruling in April that Assange could be sent to the US.
American prosecutors say Assange unlawfully helped US Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning steal 500,000 classified diplomatic cables and military files that WikiLeaks later published, putting lives at risk.
Julian Assange gestures from the window of a prison van as he is driven out of Southwark Crown Court in London, after having been sentenced to 50 weeks in prison for breaching his bail conditions in 2012.AFP via Getty Images
“Today is not the end of the fight. It is only the beginning of a new legal battle. We will appeal through the legal system,” Wikileaks said in a statement on Twitter.
The UK’s Home Office said “the UK courts have not found that it would be oppressive, unjust or an abuse of process to extradite Mr. Assange.”
BREAKING: UK Home Secretary approves extradition of WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange to the US where he would face a 175 year sentence – A dark day for Press freedom and for British democracy
The decision will be appealedhttps://t.co/m1bX8STSr8 pic.twitter.com/5nWlxnWqO7
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) June 17, 2022
“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 U.S. he will be treated appropriately, including in relation to his health,” the Home Office said in a statement.
Assange previously spent seven years in Ecuadorian Embassy in London to avoid extradition to Sweden to face allegations of rape and sexual assault.
The charges were dropped in 2019 because so much time has elapsed.
In this file photo taken on May 1, 2019, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange arrives at court in London to be sentenced for bail violation.AFP via Getty Images
This court artist sketch by Elizabeth Cook shows Wikileaks Founder Julian Assange at Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London, Wednesday, April 20, 2022.AP
That year, Assange was arrested and has since been locked up in Belmarsh high-security prison in England.
The case was thrust into the open more than a decade ago when the US asked British authorities to extradite Assange to the US so he could stand trial to face the charges against him.
Assange’s arrest sparked mass fury across the globe, as journalism organizations and human rights groups long called for the UK to refuse the US’s extradition request.
Posters, badges and leaflets picturing WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange are displayed on a table in front of the Home Office building, in London, on May 17, 2022, during a demonstration to protest against the extradition of Assange.AFP via Getty Images
His supporters argue he was acting as a journalist and is entitled to First Amendment protections of freedom of speech. It’s also argued his case is politically motivated.
Assange’s lawyer, Mark Summers, says he could face up to 175 years in jail if he is convicted in the US.
Demomstrators hold banners and placard as they gather in front of the Home Office building, in London, on May 17, 2022, during a demonstration to protest against the extradition of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.AFP via Getty Images
In December, the High Court overturned the lower court’s decision, saying that the US promises were enough to guarantee that Assange would be treated humanely.
In March, Assange and his former lawyer Stella Moris married in a prison ceremony.
With Post wires