London: A British judge on Wednesday formally approved the extradition of Julian Assange to the United States to face spying charges over the alleged leak of classified documents.
The case will now go to Britain's interior minister for a decision, who has to decide whether the US request for Assange’s extradition meets all remaining legal tests, including an assurance to not execute him if found guilty. Assange’s lawyers say he could face up to 175 years in jail if he is convicted in the US.
However, the WikiLeaks founder still has legal avenues of appeal.
Outside the court, several supporters had gathered carrying signs saying: "Don't extradite Assange" and "Free Assange". Former Opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn was among the supporters, who said: "He's done absolutely no more than telling the truth to the world. We will carry on campaigning."
Supporters and lawyers for Assange, 50, argue that he was acting as a journalist and is entitled to First Amendment protections of freedom of speech for publishing documents that exposed U.S. military wrongdoing in Iraq and Afghanistan. They argue that his case is politically motivated.
The US indictment against him claims Assange conspired to crack a scrambled password, known as "hash", to a classified US defence department computer. Assange denies the charge and maintains there is no evidence anyone's safety was put at risk.