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Julian Assange Closer to Extradition to U.S.

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Supporters of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange rally outside of British Embassy. | Image by Alexandros Michailidis on Shutterstock

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The decade-long battle of extraditing Australian Julian Assange to the U.S. moved closer to completion on April 20.

The case has been fought under the gaze of the media. The Westminster Magistrates Court heard Assange’s case on April 20, where a judge declared he was able to be extradited to the U.S., NPR reports.

Aljazeera reports the incident addressed Assange having leaked information about military wrongdoing in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Assange’s defense team has called the U.S. prison system inhumane and a form of torture. Julian Assange won an earlier case against his extradition by claiming he would likely kill himself in a U.S. maximum-security prison.

In the U.S., Assange faces espionage charges for his role in the WikiLeaks scandal. If Assange is extradited and found guilty of the current charges, he faces a maximum of 175 years in federal prison.

Assange has made no secret of his attempts to avoid extradition on the various charges he faces.

Zero Hedge reports advocators of Julian Assange made their support of the Australian clear outside Westminster Magistrates Court.

The supporters and defense team of Assange claim political motives in the U.S. have driven his case. The first step in extraditing Assange to America came in 2012 when Swedish prosecutors charged him with sexual assault. The Swedish case was dropped in 2019 when the statute of limitation expired.

U.S. authorities have spent the last decade attempting to extradite Assange from the U.K. The WikiLeaks founder spent 7 years in London’s Ecuadorian Embassy. According to Aljazeera, Assange was removed from the embassy in 2019 and has spent the last 3 years in the maximum-security Belmarsh Prison.

The latest hearing occurred at the Westminster Magistrates Court, with Assange appearing by video link. Judge Paul Goldspring agreed the U.S. could extradite Assange after assurances were given that he would not receive the harsh treatment he fears.

NPR reports Judge Goldspring believes a sentence significantly shorter than 175 years is likely.

Assange and his supporters believe he should be given the privileges of journalists under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

NPR reports Assange will not immediately be extradited to the U.S. after his legal team revealed they had reason to appeal the decision.

British Home Secretary Priti Patel must confirm the extradition before it can occur. Assange’s legal team has 4 weeks to make their appeal for clemency from the U.K.’s Home Secretary.

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