The UK Home Secretary has SIGNED an order allowing Julian Assange to be extradited to the US, he confirmed today.
Sajid Javid said “I want to see justice done” as he cleared a key hurdle standing between the Wikileaks founder and possible decades in jail.
The announcement is likely to be seen as a final show of strength by the Tory leadership contender as MPs voted on the next Prime Minister today.
Mr Javid has repeatedly rejected Labour’s pleas to block the extradition of the 47-year-old after he was dragged out of a 2,487-day stay in the Ecuadorean embassy.
Assange will face his latest legal hearing tomorrow and while the final decision is for the courts, Mr Javid said he would not stand in the way of extradition.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “There’s an extradition request from the US which is before the courts tomorrow.
“Yesterday I signed the extradition order and certified it and that will be going in front of the curts tomorrow.
“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 was charged last month in the United States with receiving and publishing thousands of classified documents linked to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The US Justice Department has indicted the 47-year-old, who is currently jailed in Britain, on 17 new counts that relate to his “alleged role in one of the largest compromises of classified information in the history of the United States”, it said.
He is accused of working with former US army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning in “unlawfully obtaining and disclosing classified documents related to the national defence”, a statement said.
The Justice Department said that by publishing unredacted versions of the leaked files, Assange put “named human sources at a grave and imminent risk”.
After a federal grand jury returned the indictment on Thursday, WikiLeaks swiftly issued a tweet describing the move as “madness”.
“It is the end of national security journalism and the first amendment,” it said.
Assange’s lawyer told the Mirror he was suffering osteoperosis and dental problems after being dragged, grey-haired and pony-tailed, by officers invited into the embassy.
Assange was accused of rape by a woman he met at a conference in Sweden in August 2010.
He denied the claims but has never been tried in court over them due to his refusal to face justice.
In June 2012, Swedish prosecutors called for him to be extradited to the Sweden.
But his lawyers claimed this could be a pretext to extradite him to the US, where Wikileaks’ revelations exposed military wrongdoing and humiliated the establishment.
So Assange fled bail and applied for asylum in Ecuador, walking into the country’s embassy in London where he stayed for almost seven years.