The Home Secretary Sajid Javid has signed a US request for Julian Assange to be extradited to the America.
The admission was revealed during an interview with Javid on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Thursday.
It comes amid concern about the health of Julian Assange. Last month it was revealed that the Wikileaks co-founder had been moved to hospital wing of the Belmarsh high security prison in London. He was reportedly too ill to appear via video link in a hearing to discuss his extradition to the United States.
But this cut little ice with the Home Secretary who acknowledged that he has this week given his blessing to the extradition.
“He’s rightly behind bars,” Javid was quoted as saying by the Guardian newspaper. “There’s an extradition request from the US that is before the courts tomorrow, but yesterday I signed the extradition order and certified it and that will be going in front of the courts tomorrow.”
The US Justice Department recently hit Assange with 17 new charges, accusing him of violating the Espionage Act after he received and unlawfully published the names of classified sources.
These new US charges are extremely serious for Assange, as he had originally been facing roughly five years in prison in the US on the original conspiracy to commit computer intrusion charge.
But now many of these new charges could each entail jail terms of five to 10 years, meaning Assange could face decades in prison if convicted.
The decision by the Home Secretary to sign the extradition order opens the way for the court to decide whether to send the WikiLeaks founder to the US.
“It is a decision ultimately for the courts, but there is a very important part of it for the home secretary and I want to see justice done at all times and we’ve got a legitimate extradition request, so I’ve signed it, but the final decision is now with the courts,” Javid was quoted as saying.
Javid had been facing a dilemma whether to extradite Assange to the US or Sweden, when he finished his prison sentence in the UK, where is currently serving a 50 week sentence at Belmarsh prison for breaching the Bail Act.
Assange had taken refuge in their embassy after he lost his final plea to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he had faced allegations of raping a woman and sexually molesting and coercing another in Stockholm in August 2010.
Those charges were dropped in 2015, but now Swedish authorities are once again seeking his extradition, after they reopened an investigation into the 2010 rape allegation.
But Sweden’s legal case suffered a setback last week when a court in Uppsala said Assange did not need to be detained.
According to the Guardian newspaper, that ruling by the district court prevented Swedish prosecutors from applying immediately for an extradition warrant for Assange to face an allegation of rape dating back to 2010.
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