Julian Assange one step closer to being extradited to US

Julian Assange speaks to the media from the balcony of the Embassy

Julian Assange speaks to the media from the balcony of the Embassy

Home Secretary Sajid Javid told BBC Radio today that he has signed the extradition order for Julian Assange, paving the way for the WikiLeaks founder to be sent to the U.S.to face charges of computer hacking and espionage.

A hearing related to the United States request had been set for last month, but, because Assange was too ill to attend, it is now taking place tomorrow.

Assange had been sheltering in Ecuador's embassy in London for seven years until he was arrested April 11 when Ecuador finally withdrew his asylum.

Assange declined a chance to consent to his extradition, suggesting his lawyers will argue against it when it comes before a court and potentially appeal.

He is now in a London prison after being jailed for 50 weeks for skipping bail after fleeing to the Ecuadorean embassy to avoid extradition to Sweden for questioning in a sexual assault investigation in 2012.

Supporters have continuously hailed Assange as a free-speech icon and was being tied down constantly for exposing the misdeeds which have embarassed the superpower. It is unclear whether the WikiLeaks founder could be sent to Sweden or the US.

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Assange will face charges that he conspired to hack government computers and violated an espionage law. He's wanted in connection to leaked documents by whistle-blower and former intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning. Information published by WikiLeaks appeared to establish the killing of hundreds of civilians by the United States in unreported incidents.

Swedish officials are understood to be keen to question Assange in jail in Britain.

"The U.S. Department of Justice charges against Assange relating to the alleged violation of the Espionage Act contain a real threat to press freedom for journalists and media outlets around the world", it added. A judge decides whether there is "prima facie evidence of guilt" and whether extradition would breach a person's human rights. Sweden has also said it may reopen the rape case against Assange. The statute of limitation for rape is 10 years, which means Assange can be prosecuted until August 2020.

Mr Assange denies the allegations.

What lies ahead for Assange?

The U.S. will seek his extradition in a London court and will look Friday at all the charges against Assange.

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