Julian Assange extradition case sent to UK minister Priti Patel
The extradition case of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, wanted in the US over the alleged leak of classified documents related to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, was sent to UK Home Secretary Priti Patel on Wednesday.
The minister will be the one to finally approve the 50-year-old's extradition order, which was sent back to Westminster Magistrates' Court in London after several stages of appeal right up to the Supreme Court. The lower court is required to formally send the papers to the Home Secretary, at which stage Assange, an Australian national, can lodge an appeal with the High Court.
"In layman's terms, I am duty bound to send your case to the secretary of state for a decision," Chief Magistrate Paul Goldspring told Assange, who appeared via videolink from Belmarsh prison in south-east London.
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"You have the right to appeal to the High Court and if you exercise your right to appeal it will not be heard until [Home Secretary Priti Patel] has made her decision," the judge said.
Patel must now decide whether the US request for Assange to face the American courts meets all remaining legal tests, including an assurance to not execute him if found guilty. Assange's lawyers say he could face up to 175 years in jail if he is convicted in the US.
Assange, who has denied any wrongdoing, was seen making a heart shape with his hands directed at his new wife Stella Moris a lawyer whom the Australian campaigner married in prison last month.
The couple have two young sons together from Assange's time in exile at the Ecuador embassy in London. Outside the court, several of their supporters gathered carrying signs saying "Don't Extradite Assange" and Free Assange.
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Former Opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn was among the supporters, who said: "He's done absolutely no more than telling the truth to the world. We will carry on campaigning."
In March, the WikiLeaks Founder lost an appeal against his extradition in the UK Supreme Court. Lawyers had argued that he should not be taken to the US because of a real and "oppressive" risk of suicide and won the right to appeal in Britain's highest court.
However, the Supreme Court concluded that his application did not raise an arguable point of law. The US indictment against him claims Assange conspired to crack a scrambled password, known as "hash", to a classified US defence department computer. Assange denies the charge and maintains there is no evidence anyone's safety was put at risk.
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