The extradition of WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange to the US has set alarm bells ringing in the UK, as Home Secretary Priti Patel granted her approval on Friday (June 17) to send the journalist across to the American authorities. “The UK courts have determined that extraditing Mr. Assange would not be harsh, unfair, or an abuse of process,” the Home Office stated. Assange has about two weeks to challenge the decision.
The extradition approval was dubbed a “dark day for press freedom and British democracy” by WikiLeaks, which also stated that “the judgment will be challenged.” An extradition application has earlier been denied by a British judge on the premise that Assange may attempt suicide upon extradition or be exposed to cruel conditions in US custody. However, the American officials subsequently appealed the decision and won, promising the UK that his liberties would be respected.
Allies of the imprisoned journalist claim that he is being prosecuted for revealing the American government’s dirty crimes, and that his current predicament is supposed to serve as a terrifying message to any reporter who might consider doing it as well. “It was within Priti Patel’s ability to act responsibly. Instead, she will be regarded as a willing participant in the US government’s plan to convert investigative journalism into a criminal industry,” continued WikiLeaks.
WikiLeaks stated it will keep going to battle for Assange in the judicial framework to prevent him from being imprisoned for the remainder of his life in “the deepest dungeons of the US prison system.” The Australian citizen is wanted by the US for 17 suspected espionage offenses, and if found guilty, he could face a term of upwards of 175 years behind bars.
WikiLeaks noted that the US had “schemed his assassination,” alluding to the Yahoo News article that reported the CIA contemplated assassinating or capturing Assange when he was taking sanctuary in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London under Trump’s then-CIA Chief Mike Pompeo. Beginning in 2010, when WikiLeaks disclosed a cache of State Department cables and Pentagon papers depicting war crimes perpetrated by US soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq, Assange became a high-profile target on the US hit list.