TOP STORIES Will Julian Assange finally be extradited? Where is...

Will Julian Assange finally be extradited? Where is his business now

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Stella Assange, wife of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, speaks to the UK Home Office in London as protesters demand the release of Julian Assange on May 17. Home Secretary Priti Patel signed the extradition order on Friday.

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Stella Assange, wife of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, speaks to the UK Home Office in London as protesters demand the release of Julian Assange on May 17. Home Secretary Priti Patel signed the extradition order on Friday.

Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

Julian Assange is one step closer to trial in the US, where he faces 18 federal charges related to his publication of secret diplomatic cables and confidential military reports on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

On Friday, the British government formally ordered the extradition of the founder of WikiLeaks, but Assange has two weeks to appeal the order to the UK Home Office.

“This is disappointing news and should be of concern to anyone who cares about the First Amendment and the right to publish,” Assange’s lawyer Barry Pollak said in a statement. “The decision will be appealed.”

UK authorities arrested Assange in April 2019 when the US released an indictment charging him with a criminal conspiracy that led to “one of the largest disclosures of classified information in the history of the United States.”

Where in the US will Assange be tried?

A federal grand jury indicted Assange in the Eastern District of Virginia. If he loses his appeal and is extradited, his first court appearance will be at the Albert W. Bryan U.S. Courthouse in Alexandria, Virginia, near Washington, DC. Case referred to Circuit Judge Claude M. Hilton.

If found guilty, Assange could face up to 10 years in prison for each of the 17 most serious criminal offenses against him, although the Justice Department notes: “Actual sentences for federal crimes are usually less than the maximum sentences.”

What is the next move in combat?

The UK Home Office said The British courts did not find that extradition would be incompatible with Assange’s “human rights, including his right to a fair trial and freedom of expression.”

“The last point is very important,” London-based journalist Willem Marks told NPR. According to Marx, this is where legal experts say Assange will focus his appeal, adding “and also this really interesting potential political motivation, as his team argues.” [is] behind this extradition request.”

The fight for extradition has dragged on since Assange was imprisoned in the UK in 2019. In early 2021, a British judge ruled in Assange’s favor, saying he would face a high risk of suicide if sent to the US justice system. But the United States appealed this decision – and won.

In March, the UK Supreme Court ruled that Assange could not appeal the lower court’s ruling against him, saying his case “does not raise a moot point of law.” A month later, another judge formally approved the US extradition request, leaving the next step to Home Secretary Priti Patel, who then signed the extradition order.

Last month, protesters gathered outside the Home Office to demand the immediate release of Julian Assange in London.

Dan Kitwood/Getty Images


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Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

Last month, protesters gathered outside the Home Office to demand the immediate release of Julian Assange in London.

Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

What are the charges against Assange?

US Attorney’s Office accuses 50-year-old Assange of help Chelsea Manninga former U.S. Army intelligence analyst with top-secret security clearance cracked the password on Department of Defense computers connected to the secret Internet Protocol network in 2010. The US government uses this network to exchange classified information and materials.

The charges against Assange have grown in number and detail, set out in three separate indictments that were previously sealed by the court. The most serious allegations against him include conspiracy to obtain and disclose national defense information. The least serious charge Assange faced was the first one brought against him: conspiracy to hack into a computer.

Assange fought extradition for years, going as far as waiving bail and living in the Ecuadorian embassy in London for seven years to avoid authorities. At the time, he was concerned about both the US espionage allegations and the extradition request for the Swedish rape allegations (which have since been dropped).

What information did Assange share?

WikiLeaks has published a huge number of documents on its website and also provided information to journalists. Topics include about 490,000 confidential military reports from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, as well as about 800 Guantanamo Bay prisoner assessments and about 250,000 State Department cables.

The US says in court documents that by releasing unredacted confidential documents, Assange revealed the names of people who shared information or otherwise helped the US despite potential repercussions — not just in Iraq and Afghanistan, but also in China, Iran and Syria.

Initial federal charges focused on Assange’s contacts with Manning. But in 2020 new accusation claimed that Assange also hired hackers from groups such as Anonymous, LulzSec and Gnosis to carry out cyberattacks against government agencies, cybersecurity firms and other organizations, hoping to compromise internal databases and collect sensitive documents.

What about the First Amendment and freedom of speech?

Assange insisted that he was acting like a journalist, seeking transparency and revealing secrets. But his critics, including the US government, counter that he is trying to use the First Amendment to protect himself from liability for supposedly illegal actions.

Assange’s defenders, including the American Civil Liberties Union, say the US should drop charges against him. First, they note, the information he published is true.

Prosecuting Assange in the US “would be unprecedented and unconstitutional,” said ACLU spokesman Ben Wiesner. said last December“and open the door to criminal investigations by other news organizations.”

But the Justice Department says the charges against Assange are not about obtaining classified information, but about allegedly working to obtain this information through illegal hacking. It also says that the allegations are not in response to his massive release of American secrets, but to the disclosure of specific confidential information about people who are threatened with dangerous reprisals.

“Julian Assange is not a journalist,” Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers said when announced a criminal case against Assange.

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