Sajid Javid has signed an extradition request for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who faces charges in the US under the Espionage Act.
The United Kingdom has signed an extradition request for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who faces charges in the US under the Espionage Act.
UK Home Secretary Sajid Javid said he signed the papers on Wednesday, a day after the US Justice Department formally asked Britain to extradite the 47-year-old Australian.
“First of all I am very pleased the police were able to apprehend him and now he is rightly behind bars because he broke UK law,”
Javid told BBC Radio 4 on Thursday.
“There is 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,” he added.
The US will detail all charges against Assange on Friday, when it seeks his extradition in a London court.
US prosecutors initially charged Assange with a single count of computer intrusion, but last month added 17 new counts, including controversial charges under the Espionage Act for encouraging, receiving and publishing national defense information in concert with former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning.
Assange’s initial indictment sparked a debate over the First Amendment and whether his alleged role in procuring secret US material constituted protected journalistic activity.
Assange lived inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London for seven years until April when the country revoked his protection and he was arrested.
The hearing has been rescheduled for Friday and, depending on the state of his health, may take place at Belmarsh prison, where he is being held.
The journalist spent over six years living under asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, out of fear Britain would hand him over to the US. He was forcibly dragged out of the building in April after the South American nation decided to evict him.
His arrest and subsequent imprisonment prompted much public outcry. Human rights activist Peter Tatchell believes a near maximum sentence of “50 weeks is excessive and disproportionate.”
The WikiLeaks co-founder’s health has been of particular concern to his supporters. His lawyer, Per Samuelson, told reporters after visiting Belmarsh at the end of May that “Assange’s health situation… was such that it was not possible to conduct a normal conversation with him.”
Earlier this month the Swedish court rules it would not seek to detain Julian Assange over rape allegation.
The UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Nils Melzer, who visited Assange in Belmarsh, claimed that he showed clear signs of degrading and inhumane treatment, which only added to his deteriorating health.
The UK Home Office said in a statement: “Mr Assange was arrested in relation to a provisional extradition request from the United States of America. He is accused of offences including computer misuse and the unauthorised disclosure of national defence information.”
“We have received the full extradition request, which has been certified by the Home Secretary.
“This case is now before the courts and it would be inappropriate to comment further.”