A British court on Wednesday issued a formal order to extradite WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange to the US to face espionage charges.
Chief Magistrate Paul Goldspring approved the extradition after a short hearing.
“In layman’s terms, I am duty-bound to send your case to the secretary of state for a decision,” Goldspring told Assange.
The final decision on the extradition will be made by Home Secretary Priti Patel next month, which Assange will be able to appeal at the High Court if she goes ahead with a decision of extradition.
Assange’s lawyers will make representations to Patel to convince her against such extradition.
Assange appeared by video link during Wednesday’s hearing.
Mark Summers QC, for Assange, told the court that they would make “serious submissions” to Patel regarding US sentencing and conditions.
Outside the court, a group of people, including former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, rallied to urge the court to free Assange.
Speaking to journalists, Corbyn said he hoped Priti Patel would recognize her “huge responsibility” to stand up for free speech, journalism, and democracy in the decision she is to make.
“He has done no more than tell the world about military planning, military policies, and the horrors of wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and I think he deserves to be thanked,” he said.
Assange will face 18 counts of hacking the US government computers and violating the espionage law if he is extradited to the US and a potential prison sentence for years. He may face a prison term of up to 175 years.
The 50-year-old was dragged out of Ecuador’s embassy building in London in 2019, where he took refuge for more than seven years.
The British police arrested him for skipping his bail in 2012 and on behalf of the US due to an extradition warrant.