Assange is currently serving a 50-week jail sentence for skipping bail. (Reuters: Henry Nicholls)
British Home Secretary Sajid Javid has signed an extradition order to send Julian Assange to the United States.
- The US Justice Department this week formally requested Britain extradite Assange
- Assange’s lawyer Jennifer Robinson said the signing of the order was a normal part of the process
- The WikiLeaks founder is due to face court in London on Friday for the extradition hearing
The US Justice Department this week formally requested Britain extradite Assange to face charges that he conspired to hack government computers and violated an espionage law.
Mr Javid told the BBC the final decision on Assange’s extradition would be up to the court.
“There’s an extradition request from the US that is before the courts tomorrow, but yesterday I signed the extradition order, certified it, and that will be going in front of the courts tomorrow,” he said.
“It’s a decision ultimately for the courts but there is a very important part of it for the Home Secretary and I want to see justice done at all times.
“We’ve got a legitimate extradition request so I’ve signed it, but the final decision is now with the courts.”
Assange’s lawyer Jennifer Robinson told the ABC the signing of the order was a normal part of the process and the extradition challenge now begins.
Assange wanted in US and Sweden
Assange, who is currently serving a 50-week jail sentence for skipping bail, is due to face court in London on Friday for the extradition hearing.
The United States has charged him with conspiracy to commit computer intrusion, which carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison.
US government counsel Ben Brandon previously told the Westminster Magistrates’ Court the case against Assange involved one of the biggest compromises of classified information in history.
It included hundreds of thousands of activity reports relating to the Afghanistan and Iraq wars and 250,000 US diplomatic cables.
He is accused of conspiring with former US Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to crack passwords to gain access to the information, which was subsequently posted on WikiLeaks.
Sweden has also reopened its own investigation into a 2010 rape allegation made against the WikiLeaks founder.
Earlier this month, the Uppsala District Court rejected a request from prosecutors to detain him in absentia.
Julian Assange’s supporters protested outside court during an extradition hearing last month. (ABC News: Lincoln Rothall)
However, the ruling does not mean the preliminary rape investigation must be abandoned, only that Assange won’t be extradited to Sweden for now.
Assange was arrested by British police and carried from the Ecuadorean embassy after his South American hosts abruptly revoked his seven-year asylum in April.