USA formally requests Assange be extradited to face charges

Evarado Alatorre
Junio 13, 2019

The United States government has formally submitted an extradition request to the United Kingdom for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, a US official said Tuesday.

After his removal from the Ecuadorean Embassy, Assange was jailed by a British court for 50 weeks for jumping bail while being sought by Swedish authorities in the sexual assault case.

Soon after his arrest in London, the U.S. sought his extradition to face charges of computer hacking and being involved in a compromise of classified information, a charge that carries a maximum sentence of five years.

Assange was arrested on April 11, after Ecuador officially revoked his asylum status and allowed the United Kingdom police to enter the premises of the Ecuadorian embassy in London, to escort him out and take him into custody.

Assange took refuge at the Ecuadorian embassy in London in 2012 to avoid possible extradition to Sweden to face charges that he raped a Swedish woman. In an 18-count indictment unveiled last month, the U.S. Justice Department alleged Mr. Assange violated the Espionage Act by "unlawfully obtaining and disclosing classified documents related to the national defence". A European government source familiar with British extradition procedures said it could take anywhere from two to five years for the US request for Assange's extradition to be resolved.

The new charges include violation of a US espionage statute.

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During a media briefing Tuesday in London, Mr. Hrafnsson said the case against Mr. Assange strikes at the heart of what journalists do: obtain information, or encourage others to provide information, and then publish the contents.

He said the Espionage Act was part of an "archaic legal framework. and has never been used against a publisher and a journalist".

"It's an indication of the watershed moment that we are now seeing in the attack on journalism", he said.

On June 14, a London court is expected to hold the first hearing on Assange's potential extradition to the United States.

Mr. Assange's next extradition hearing is scheduled for this Friday in London.

Assange founded WikiLeaks in 2006 as "an intelligence agency of the people". "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.

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