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Judge issues Assange's extradition order to the UK government

On Wednesday, a British judge approved the extradition Julian Assange from Britain to the United States for spying charges. Although the case will be referred to Britain's interior minister, Assange still has legal recourse.

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Judge issues Assange's extradition order to the UK government

This order brings an end to the long-running extradition battle. It comes after Assange was denied permission by the U.K. Supreme Court to appeal against a ruling of a lower court that he could be extradited.

The order was issued by District Judge Paul Goldspring in a short hearing at Westminster Magistrates Court. As Assange watched via video link from Belmarsh Prison, his supporters rallied outside and demanded he be released.

Priti Patel, Home Secretary, will decide whether or not to allow extradition.

Assange's legal options are not exhausted by the move. Assange has been trying for years to avoid a U.S. trial on charges related WikiLeaks' publication a large trove classified documents over a decade ago.

His lawyers have four weeks in which to submit submissions to Patel. They can also appeal to the High Court.

Mark Summers, Assange's lawyer, told the court that there were "serious submissions" from the legal team.

The U.S. requested British authorities to extradite Assange in order for him to face 17 charges of espionage as well as one charge of computer misuse. American prosecutors claim that Assange illegally assisted Chelsea Manning, an intelligence analyst for the U.S. Army, to steal classified diplomatic cables. These files were later published by WikiLeaks, which put lives at risk.

Lawyers and supporters of Assange (50) argue that he was acting in journalistic capacity and therefore entitled to First Amendment freedom of speech protections for publishing documents that expose U.S. military wrongdoings in Iraq and Afghanistan. They claim that Assange's case is motivated by political motives.

An initial rejection by a British court judge of an extradition request from the United States was based on Assange's likelihood to die in harsh U.S. prison conditions. Later, U.S. authorities assured Assange that he wouldn't be subject to the extreme treatment his lawyers claimed would threaten his mental and physical health.

The High Court overturned December's lower court decision. It stated that the U.S. promises were sufficient to ensure Assange would receive humane treatment. Assange tried to contest that ruling before the Supreme Court rejected it in March.

Assange's lawyers claim that he could spend up to 175 years behind bars if he is convicted by the U.S. authorities, but American authorities say the sentence will likely be lower.

Since 2019, Assange is being held in Britain's Belmarsh Prison, London. He was detained for failing to pay bail in a separate legal case. To avoid being extradited to Sweden, Assange spent seven years in London's Ecuadorian Embassy.

Sweden ended its investigation into sex crime in November 2019, owing to the lack of time.

Assange and Stella Moris were married last month in prison.

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