Julian Assange one step closer to being extradited to US

NICKED Assange was arrested last month after seven years holed up in the Ecuador embassy

NICKED Assange was arrested last month after seven years holed up in the Ecuador embassy

The Home Secretary said this morning: "The final decision is now with the courts".

Assange is wanted across the Atlantic for what USA officials call "one of the largest compromises of classified information in the history of the United States".

The US Justice Department confirmed on Tuesday that it had submitted a formal extradition request.

Assange is now being held in Belmarsh Prison in London and is serving a 50-week sentence for jumping bail in 2012.

However, on April 11 this year, when Assange was arrested, Swedish prosecutors said the alleged victim's lawyer had demanded for the investigation to be reopened.

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Javid said that part of his role to sign all legitimate extradition requests, but Assange's fate was largely out of his hands.

The US government has accused Assange of conspiring with former US military intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to leak a trove of classified material in 2010.

"Assange faces up to 170 years in prison and his extradition sets a unsafe global precedent for the suppression of press freedom", the Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance said in a statement.

"Yesterday I signed the extradition order and certified it and that will be going in front of the courts tomorrow".

It also published thousands of entirely unredacted United States diplomatic cables, exposing the nation's foreign policy workings and causing it severe embarrassment in the process.

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The extradition request had been expected ever since United States authorities first announced a criminal case against Mr Assange. The Swedish authorities closed the investigation in 2015 citing that they were time-barred, whereas, in 2017, they dropped the rape probe without filing charges, losing hope on getting Assange anytime soon.

Mr. Assange, who faces an 18-count indictment by the U.S. Justice Department, was too ill to appear before Westminster Magistrates' Court at a scheduled hearing last month and his next hearing is expected to take place at the high-security Belmarsh jail in London, where he is being held.

British Home Secretary Sajid Javid said Thursday he signed the request.

The secretary then decides whether to order an extradition. The history of Assange's case suggests this is likely if the case gets this far.

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