Home secretary Priti Patel to decide whether to extradite Assange

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A London court has approved the extradition of WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange to the US to face hacking and espionage charges.

The home secretary, Priti Patel, will now decide whether Assange should stand trial in the US, where he faces a maximum sentence of 175 years.

Assange appeared by video link from Belmarsh Prison at a short hearing today at Westminster Magistrates Court in London.

Mark Summers QC, representing Assange, told the chief magistrate there was no option but to refer the case to Patel to make a final decision on extradition.

“It is not open to me to raise fresh evidence and issues, even though there are fresh developments in the case,” he said.

Summers said Assange’s legal team would make “serious submissions” to the home secretary on US sentencing practices and other matters.

Assange, who was smartly dressed in jeans, a light grey sports jacket, a shirt and a tie, spoke only to confirm his name and date of birth.

The hearing took place after the Supreme Court refused Assange an appeal against his extradition last month.  

Chief magistrate Paul Goldspring issued an extradition order following today’s hearing, which lasted less than 10 minutes.

Goldspring told Assange: “I am duty bound to send your case to the secretary of state for a decision whether or not you should be extradited.”

Assange has the right to appeal to the High Court, but any appeal will not be heard until after the home secretary has made her decision, said Goldspring.

Judge Vanessa Baraitser first ruled in January 2022 that it would be oppressive to extradite Assange because he was at high risk of suicide.

That decision was overturned by the High Court in London after the US gave diplomatic assurances that it would provide adequate medical care and would not hold Assange in conditions amounting to solitary confinement.

Assange will remain in Belmarsh Prison until Patel makes a decision to accept or reject the extradition order. Assange’s legal team has four weeks to make legal representations.


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