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UK court approves extradition of Julian Assange to US

Wednesday 20 April 2022, by siawi3


UK court approves extradition of Julian Assange to US

Home secretary to decide whether WikiLeaks founder will be extradited to US on espionage charges

Photo: A supporter of Julian Assange holds a placard outside Westminster magistrates court in London. Photograph: Justin Tallis/AFP/Getty Images

Ben Quinn

Wed 20 Apr 2022 11.50 BST
First published on Wed 20 Apr 2022 11.19 BST

A court has formally approved the extradition of Julian Assange to the US on espionage charges, in what will ultimately be a decision for the UK home secretary, Priti Patel.

The Wikileaks co-founder, who has the right of appeal, appeared by videolink during the Westminster magistrates court hearing, which one of his barristers described as a “brief but significant moment in the case”.

Mark Summers QC, for Assange, told the chief magistrate that he had no option but to send the case to the home secretary. It was not open, at this point, for Assange’s team to raise fresh evidence but there had been “fresh developments”, he added.

Summers said “serious submissions” would be made to the home secretary regarding US sentencing and conditions.

The brief hearing was taking place after the supreme court last month refused Assange’s appeal against his extradition. He had sought to challenge a judgment by the high court in December that ruled he could be extradited after assurances from the US authorities with regard to his prison conditions there.

An extradition order was issued by the chief magistrate, Paul Goldspring, during the seven-minute hearing.

Goldspring told Assange: “In layman’s terms, I am duty bound to send your case to the secretary of state for a decision.”

As well as being able to make submissions to Patel, Assange’s lawyers can also access other routes to fight his extradition. This could include mounting a challenge on other issues of law raised at first instance on which he lost and have not yet been subject to appeal.

Assange, wearing a jacket and tie, appeared via a video link from Belmarsh prison, where he was married last month to his partner, Stella Moris, and spoke only to confirm his name and date of birth.

Moris was in the public gallery at Westminster magistrates court, where a large crowd of supporters gathered outside, including the former Labour party leader, Jeremy Corbyn.

Corbyn said he hoped the home secretary would recognise her “huge responsibility” to stand up for free speech, journalism and democracy and release Assange.

“He has done no more than tell the world about military planning, military policies and the horrors of wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and I think he deserves to be thanked,” he told reporters.