UK

Julian Assange: Sajid Javid signs US extradition request

Julian Assange Image copyright AFP
Image caption Julian Assange is fighting extradition to the US

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

By certifying the request, Mr Javid has effectively rubber-stamped it so it can now be considered by the court.

Assange will appear via video before Westminster magistrates on Friday.

The US wants the Wikileaks founder to face charges there related to the leaking of government secrets. Assange opposes the extradition request.

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Media captionHe's been in an embassy for seven years - but why was Julian Assange there in the first place?

At his last hearing a fortnight ago, Assange, 47, was too ill to appear in court, according to his lawyer.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Mr Javid said he wanted to "see justice done at all times" and added: "We've got a legitimate extension request so I've signed it but the final decision is now with the courts."

Extradition orders by the US and certain other countries need to be rubber-stamped by the home secretary - so long as they meet the necessary criteria - before they can be considered by a court.

Assange is currently 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.

He spent seven years inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London before being handed over to British authorities by Ecuador in April.

Last month, Swedish prosecutors reopened their investigation into an allegation of rape against Assange, which he denies.

The allegations he faces in the US include computer misuse and the unauthorized disclosure of national defence information.

The US Justice Department indicted Assange on 18 counts that relate to his "alleged role in one of the largest compromises of classified information in the history of the United States", it said.

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Image caption Chelsea Manning is currently refusing to give evidence to a grand jury investigating Wikileaks

He is accused of working with former US army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning in "unlawfully obtaining and disclosing classified documents related to the national defence", a statement said.

Manning was convicted and jailed in the US for 35 years in 2013 but her jail term was reduced to seven years in 2017 and she was released from custody.

However, she has now been jailed for refusing to testify before an inquiry into Wikileaks. She faces daily fines and will remain in custody until she agrees to testify or until the term of the grand jury expires in 18 months, according to the Washington Post.

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