Britain’s interior minister said Thursday he had certified the US request to extradite WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on espionage grounds in a procedural move that opens the way for a court battle.
The US Justice Department confirmed on Tuesday that it had submitted a formal extradition request. British Home Secretary Sajid Javid said he signed it on Wednesday.
The 47-year-old had been sheltering in Ecuador’s embassy in London for seven years until his arrest on April 11 when Quito finally withdrew his asylum.
He is now serving a 50-week sentence in jail for skipping bail when he entered the embassy in 2012.
“I’m very pleased that the police were finally able to apprehend him and now he’s rightly behind bars because he broke UK law,” Javid told BBC radio.
“There’s an extradition request from the US that is before the courts tomorrow but yesterday I… certified it.
“I want to see justice done at all times and we’ve got a legitimate extradition request, so I’ve signed it, but the… decision is now with the courts.”
If basic criteria are met, the home secretary must certify a valid extradition request from the United States before the courts make a decision on whether the person can be extradited.
The secretary then decides whether to order an extradition.
Assange, who is being held in the top-security Belmarsh prison in southeast London, is not expected to attend Friday’s hearing in person but could take part via video-link, although it will be largely procedural.
The “first real confrontation of arguments” in court will not be for several weeks or months, according to WikiLeaks editor Kristinn Hrafnsson.
Washington has accused Assange of violating the US Espionage Act by publishing military and diplomatic files in 2010.
The 18 charges reject his claim he was simply a publisher receiving leaked material — which would be protected under press freedom legislation.
The case has upset some US and other world media, which argue that Assange’s activities differ very little from their own. They fear his case could set a precedent for limiting free speech and media rights.
Ted Cruz jokingly predicted Trump would ‘nuke Denmark’ during 2016 primary
On Wednesday, Gizmodo unearthed a clip from Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) when he was running against Donald Trump in the 2016 GOP presidential primary, and one of the tongue-in-cheek warnings he made about the future president was particularly eye-opening.
"I wake up every day and laugh at the latest thing Donald has tweeted, because he's losing it," said Cruz. "But we need a commander in chief, not a Twitterer in chief. We need someone with judgment and the temperament to keep this country safe. I don’t know anyone who would be comfortable with someone who behaves this way having his finger on the button."
Trump just got busted for inflating his golf resorts’ value by $165 million — a jailable offense
President Donald Trump appears to have misstated the value of his Scottish golf resorts by $165 million, an act which could potentially constitute a federal crime.
The controversy came to light after seemingly conflicting financial disclosure forms regarding the president's Aberdeen and Turnberry resorts in Scotland were submitted in the U.S. and the U.K., according to a new report by HuffPost.
Rudy Giuliani accuses majority of US Jews of ‘disloyalty to Israel’ — and gets torn to pieces
Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani on Wednesday tried to clean up President Donald Trump's declaration that "any Jewish people" who vote for Democrats have "a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty."
Writing on Twitter, Giuliani explained that Trump wasn't saying Jewish Democrats were disloyal to America -- rather, he was saying they were being disloyal to Israel.
"Really disappointed a rep of ADL would feign confusion about [Trump's] statement," Giuliani said. "POTUS is referring to disloyalty to Israel."