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British court sends government to extradite Assange to US

Interior Minister Priti Patel now has to decide whether to confirm or reject extradition.

The British justice formally authorized today the extradition of the founder of the WikiLeaks portal, Julian Assange, to the United States, to be tried for espionage, but the British Government will have the last word.

Interior Minister Priti Patel now has to decide whether to confirm or reject the extradition.

Under the law, the minister can only exercise the prerogative to prohibit extradition in specific cases covered by the 2003 Extradition Act and always in accordance with agreements with the requesting country, in this case, the US.

If authorized by the Superior Court, the US Court or Assange may still appeal Patel’s decision.

Today’s order by Judge Paul Goldspring of London’s Westminster Magistrates Court comes after the Supreme Court, the ultimate court, last month refused permission for Assange’s appeal against a lower court’s decision in favor of extradition.

Assange was present in court today by videoconference from the Belmarsh High-Security Prison (London) and will remain in preventive detention.

The 50-year-old Australian is accused by the US justice of the disclosure, as of 2010, of more than 700,000 confidential documents about the country’s military and diplomatic activities, particularly in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Prosecuted privately under anti-espionage legislation, Julian Assange faces 175 years in prison, in a case denounced by human rights organizations as a serious attack on press freedom.

In addition to being able to present arguments with Patel, Assange’s lawyers still have other legal avenues to appeal against extradition, which they have already announced they intend to do.

Amnesty International said that if the UK Home Secretary confirms the US request to extradite Julian Assange, it will “violate the ban on torture and set an alarming precedent for editors and journalists around the world”, as it considers that the disclosure of documents made by the Wikileaks portal was in the public interest.

The human rights organization argues that prolonged solitary confinement is a common practice in US maximum security prisons and that it amounts to torture or ill-treatment, which is prohibited by international law.

“The UK has an obligation not to send anyone to a place where life or safety is at risk and the Government must not abdicate that responsibility,” said Agnes Callamard, Secretary-General of Amnesty International, claiming that Julian Assange is running a “great risk of prison conditions that could result in irreversible damage to their physical and psychological well-being.”

Source: With Agencies

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