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UK government orders Assange extradition to US, WikiLeaks to appeal

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The British government’s Home Office announced it has approved the extradition of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to the United States. Friday’s announcement marked the latest development in what has been more than a decade of legal battles for Assange in the U.K.

Assange faces 17 charges of espionage and one charge of computer misuse in the U.S. American prosecutors say he helped U.S. Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning steal classified diplomatic cables and military files that WikiLeaks later published.

Assange’s supporters and lawyers maintain he was acting as a journalist and is entitled to First Amendment protections of freedom of the press. They have also expressed concerns Assange would face inhumane treatment and be unable to get a fair trial in the U.S.

“The conditions he will be under will be so oppressive, the case he is facing is so oppressive… that it will drive him to take his own life,” Assange’s wife Stella said Friday. “He has no public interest defense, he cannot mount a defense on the basis of the significance of the documents he published.”

The Home Office disagreed, citing previous court decisions as the basis for their ordering of Assange’s extradition over the WikiLeaks documents.

“The U.K. courts have not found that it would be oppressive, unjust or an abuse of process to extradite Mr. Assange,” a Home Office spokesperson said, according to a Home Office blog post. “Nor have they found that extradition would be incompatible with his human rights, including his right to a fair trial and to freedom of expression, and that whilst in the US he will be treated appropriately, including in relation to his health.”

In that blog post, the Home Office said “Assange retains the normal 14-day right to appeal” the decision. WikiLeaks has indicated it plans to do so, as Assange has in the past.

“We’re going to fight this. We’re going to use every appeal avenue. And we’re going to fight,” Stella Assange said. “I’m going to spend every waking hour fighting for Julian until he’s free. Until justice is served.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Jimmie Johnson: ANOTHER ORDER AND ANOTHER APPEAL FOR WIKILEAKS FOUNDER JULIAN ASSANGE.
TODAY THE U-K GAVE ITS APPROVAL FOR ASSANGE TO BE EXTRADITED TO THE U-S.
WIKILEAKS SAYS IT WILL APPEAL THE ORDER.
IT’S A LEGAL BACK-AND-FORTH THAT’S BEEN PLAYING OUT FOR OVER A DECADE NOW.
ASSANGE FACES 17 CHARGES OF ESPIONAGE IN THE U-S AFTER HE ALLEGEDLY HELPED STEAL CLASSIFIED MILITARY DOCUMENTS THAT WIKILEAKS LATER PUBLISHED.
ASSANGE’S SUPPORTERS AND LAWYERS MAINTAIN HE WAS ACTING AS A JOURNALIST AND IS ENTITLED TO FREEDOM OF THE PRESS PROTECTIONS.
THEY ALSO ARGUE HE WOULD FACE INHUMANE TREATMENT — AND WOULD BE UNABLE TO GET A FAIR TRIAL IN THE U-S.
STELLA ASSANGE | WIFE OF JULIAN ASSANGE: “The conditions he will be under will be so oppressive, the case he is facing is so oppressive, he has no public interest defense, he cannot mount a defense on the basis of the significance of the documents he published, that it will drive him to take his own life.”
Jimmie Johnson: ACCORDING TO A STATEMENT FROM THE U-K HOME OFFICE ASSANGE WILL RECEIVE APPROPRIATE TREATMENT AND HIS HUMAN RIGHTS WON’T BE VIOLATED BY THIS DECISION.
LEGAL EXPERTS SAY THE CASE COULD STILL TAKE MONTHS OR EVEN YEARS TO CONCLUDE.

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The British government’s Home Office announced it has approved the extradition of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to the United States. Friday’s announcement marked the latest development in what has been more than a decade of legal battles for Assange in the U.K.

Assange faces 17 charges of espionage and one charge of computer misuse in the U.S. American prosecutors say he helped U.S. Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning steal classified diplomatic cables and military files that WikiLeaks later published.

Assange’s supporters and lawyers maintain he was acting as a journalist and is entitled to First Amendment protections of freedom of the press. They have also expressed concerns Assange would face inhumane treatment and be unable to get a fair trial in the U.S.

“The conditions he will be under will be so oppressive, the case he is facing is so oppressive… that it will drive him to take his own life,” Assange’s wife Stella said Friday. “He has no public interest defense, he cannot mount a defense on the basis of the significance of the documents he published.”

The Home Office disagreed, citing previous court decisions as the basis for their ordering of Assange’s extradition over the WikiLeaks documents.

“The U.K. courts have not found that it would be oppressive, unjust or an abuse of process to extradite Mr. Assange,” a Home Office spokesperson said, according to a Home Office blog post. “Nor have they found that extradition would be incompatible with his human rights, including his right to a fair trial and to freedom of expression, and that whilst in the US he will be treated appropriately, including in relation to his health.”

In that blog post, the Home Office said “Assange retains the normal 14-day right to appeal” the decision. WikiLeaks has indicated it plans to do so, as Assange has in the past.

“We’re going to fight this. We’re going to use every appeal avenue. And we’re going to fight,” Stella Assange said. “I’m going to spend every waking hour fighting for Julian until he’s free. Until justice is served.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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