US Formally Asks UK to Extradite WikiLeaks’ Assange

WASHINGTON—The U.S. Justice Department has formally asked Britain to extradite WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to the United States to face charges that he conspired to hack U.S. government computers and violated an espionage law, the U.K has confirmed.

“Mr Assange was arrested in relation to a provisional extradition request from the United States of America. He is accused of offenses including computer misuse and the unauthorized disclosure of national defense information,” a spokesperson for the Home Office, Britain’s internal security department said.

“We have now received the full extradition request,” the official told Reuters.

Lawyers for Assange had no immediate comment.

Julian Assange gestures to the media from a police vehicle on his arrival at Westminster Magistrates court in London, England
Julian Assange gestures to the media from a police vehicle on his arrival at Westminster Magistrates court in London, UK, on April 11, 2019. (Jack Taylor/Getty Images)

U.S. and British security sources said U.S. prosecutors sent the formal extradition request to UK authorities last week, shortly before the expiration of a legal deadline. The formal submission of the request was first reported on Tuesday by the Washington Post.

On April 11, police forcibly removed the WikiLeaks founder from the Ecuadorean Embassy near Harrods department store in central London. Assange took refuge in the embassy there in 2012 while being sought by Swedish authorities for questioning in a sexual assault investigation.

Julian Assange speaks to the media from the balcony of the Embassy Of Ecuador on May 19, 2017 in London, England. (Jack Taylor/Getty Images)

Sources familiar with the U.S. extradition request said that it is based on an indictment federal prosecutors in Alexandria, Virginia filed against Assange in May. That indictment added 17 criminal counts to an earlier indictment, filed under seal in March 2018.

The new charges include violation of a U.S. espionage statute. The previous indictment alleged that Assange conspired with former U.S. soldier Chelsea Manning to hack into a U.S. government computer system.

Manning was arrested and convicted by military court martial for leaking hundreds of thousands of U.S. government reports to WikiLeaks.

After his removal from the Ecuadorean Embassy, Assange was jailed by a British court for 50 weeks for jumping bail while being sought by Swedish authorities in the sexual assault case.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is seen after was arrested by British police outside Westminster Magistrates Court in London
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is seen as he leaves a police station in London, Britain April 11, 2019. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls

Britain will now consider the U.S. extradition request and any possible new request from Sweden. A European government source familiar with British extradition procedures said it could take anywhere from two to five years for the U.S. request for Assange’s extradition to be resolved.

By Mark Hosenball

2019-06-11T20:30:06-05:00

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source : www.theepochtimes.com
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