The UK approved the extradition of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to the US on Friday, where he’s wanted in connection to the leaks of hundreds of thousands of classified documents.
The move was ordered by UK Home Secretary Priti Patel, after the court system found there were no legal issues with extraditing the 50-year-old Australian.
However, Wikileaks said that it would launch a legal appeal against the move.
“This is a dark day for Press freedom and for British democracy,” WikiLeaks posted on its Twitter account.
“Julian did nothing wrong… It was in Priti Patel’s power to do the right thing. Instead, she will forever be remembered as an accomplice of the United States in its agenda to turn investigative journalism into a criminal enterprise.”
A Home Office spokesperson said that Patel, as home secretary, was obliged to sign the extradition order if there were no grounds to prohibit the order being made, and that the requests were only sent to her office once a judge had determined it could proceed. Assange has 14 days to appeal, the Home Office said.
“In this case, the UK courts have not found that it would be oppressive, unjust or an abuse of process to extradite Mr Assange… Nor have they found that extradition would be incompatible with his human rights, including his right to a fair trial and to freedom of expression, and that whilst in the US he will be treated appropriately, including in relation to his health.”
The United States launched a criminal investigation into WikiLeaks in 2010 after it published a series of high-profile reports based on leaked classified documents. Assange took refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in London in 2012 and was granted asylum, but this was withdrawn in 2019. He was subsequently arrested by UK police and jailed over breaching bail conditions. He has been in prison in London since April 2019.