The United Kingdom has agreed to sign an extradition order to send Julian Assange to the United States, bringing the WikiLeaks founder another step closer towards facing court over conspiracy charges for obtaining and publishing secret military and diplomatic documents.
British Home Secretary Sajid Javid told the BBC’s Today Programme on Thursday that he signed the United States’ extradition request, which had been submitted earlier this week.
“I want to see justice done at all times and we’ve got a legitimate extradition request, so I’ve signed it, but the final decision is now with the courts,” Javid said.
Assange will face an extradition hearing on Friday, where the courts could set a timetable for extradition proceedings — which is when it would be determined whether he is sent to the United States.
The WikiLeaks founder was arrested in April at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where he had lived for almost seven years, shortly after the Ecuadorian government withdrew his asylum. He was then sentenced to 50 weeks in jail in the United Kingdom last month for skipping bail.
Later that month, Assange was hit with an 18-count indictment by the US, alleging that he conspired with, and “aided and abetted”, Chelsea Manning to remove US classified documents. The indictments also allege that Assange published unredacted names of sources in Iraq and Afghanistan that provided information to the US on WikiLeaks.
“These human sources included local Afghans and Iraqis, journalists, religious leaders, human rights advocates, and political dissidents from repressive regimes,” a statement from the US Department of Justice (DOJ) said.
Sweden has also said it may reopen the rape case against Assange.