The British government has signed a request for the extradition of WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange to the US, where he is accused of multiple violations of the Espionage Act.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today program on Thursday, British Home Secretary Sajid Javid revealed that he signed and certified the papers on Wednesday, with the order due to go before the UK courts this Friday.
“He’s rightly behind bars. 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.”
If extradited, Assange will become become the first journalist charged under the Espionage Act.
The DOJ says the indictment could mean Assange will face a maximum of 10 years for each of the 17 Espionage Act violations.
Rt.com reports: 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.”
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 publishing of the Iraq War footage showing a US Apache helicopter shooting dead 12 people, including two Reuters staff, is one of the most significant and talked-about exposures made by his WikiLeaks organization.
Just one week before Hillary Clinton became the Democratic Party’s nominee for president in 2016, WikiLeaks released thousands of emails showing that top party figures had collaborated to ensure that Senator Bernie Sanders did not win the nomination. The leaks forced DNC chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz to resign.