US Formally Asks UK to Extradite WikiLeaks’ Assange

Clay Curtis
June 13, 2019

The Justice Department has formalized its extradition request for wanted WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange, U.K. and U.K. officials confirmed Tuesday.

"I don't believe that we are going to win this with legal arguments", said the Icelandic journalist Kristinn Hrafnsson, a long-time friend of Mr. Assange who is also editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks. The WikiLeaks founder was then sentenced to 50 weeks in prison by a court in London for violating bail conditions after spending seven years in the Ecuadorian embassy. That is because the U.S. -U.K. treaty prohibits extradition for the specific charges Assange faces.

Britain will now consider the US extradition request and any possible new request from Sweden.

The 47-year-old Assange was evicted on April 11 from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where he had been holed up since 2012 after Ecuador granted him political asylum.

By that same treaty, the United States can only prosecute Assange based on the charges outlined in the extradition request, which is an 18-count indictment that was filed last month on charges of Assange violating the US Espionage Act and conspiring to hack a government computer.

A department spokesperson told The Washington Times that the US submitted its request to the United Kingdom government for the extradition of Mr. Assange ahead of a deadline this week to do so.

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The new charges include violation of a USA espionage statute.

U.S. Justice officials have insisted that Mr. Assange is not a journalist and that the case doesn't impede freedom of the press.

Hrafnsson said the charges were "very revealing about the nature of this entire case".

A formal request for Assange's extradition was delivered to British authorities last Thursday, just days before a June 11 deadline. She was recently found in contempt for refusing to cooperate with federal prosecutors pursuing charges against Mr. Assange and remanded behind bars, however. "My most urgent concern is that, in the United States, Mr. Assange would be exposed to a real risk of serious violations of his human rights", Mr. Melzer said.

Representatives for WikiLeaks did not immediately return a request for comment. Mr. Hrafnsson said Mr. Assange had been transferred to the prison hospital and it's unclear whether he will be able to attend Friday's hearing.

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