On Friday, the British Home Secretary approved a London court’s extradition order on WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to the United States.
Twelve years ago, WikiLeaks published 250,000 leaked US diplomatic cables packed with classified information. Assange was charged with eighteen espionage counts in the US—in absentia, according to UPI, which reported the latest move.
Assange’s decision to publish the cables reignited the debate over who is a journalist, who is a whistleblower, who is acting to inform the public, and who is simply acting recklessly.
WikiLeaks called the home secretary’s extradition signoff a “dark day for press freedom,” according to the report. In a statement, the organization said it would keep fighting, adding that Assange did nothing wrong and calling him a “journalist and a publisher.”
Assange, who turns 51 next month, has been in a London prison for three years, after the Ecuadorian embassy in the city had provided him sanctuary for more than six years.
“No Grounds” to Prohibit Extradition
Britain’s Home Office provided a statement defending Friday’s move, saying the 2003 Extradition Act states “the Secretary of State must sign an extradition order if there are no grounds to prohibit the order being made.”
In December, the UK High Court ruled the US had the right to extradite Assange. And in March, its Supreme Court ruled Assange’s appeal did not “raise an arguable point of law.”
WikiLeaks published the diplomatic cable trove after obtaining it from Chelsea Manning, the former US Army soldier. Manning served a total of seven years in prison for leaking U.S. government secrets to the public.
Two years after an arrest warrant was issued on Assange for two separate sexual assault allegations in Sweden and Britain, he fled to the Ecuadorian embassy in London in 2012, seeking political asylum, UPI reported. Sweden had ordered him extradited.
The US later charged him with espionage.