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US submits extradition request for Assange

US submits extradition request for Assange

The Justice Department has formally asked Britain to extradite WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to the United States to face a raft of charges related to his release of a massive trove of secret diplomatic cables and war logs, a US official said on Tuesday.

The Wikileaks founder is facing 18 charges in the USA of receiving and publishing classified information.

The Australian-born computer programmer and activist is being sought to face charges in federal court in Northern Virginia that he worked with former Army specialist Chelsea Manning to unlawfully obtain and publish hundreds of thousands of reports about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq as well as conditions within the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Assange's legal team, for its part, insists that the ultimate goal of the Swedish case against him is to get the journalist extradited to the US.

According to a US-UK treaty, any extradition request must be filed within 60 days of an arrest and Assange was arrested on April 11 at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.

The US is seeking to extradite Assange for alleged computer hacking. A Swedish court ruled last week that Assange should not be extradited to Sweden but should still be questioned in the case while he is imprisoned in Britain.

Assange was initially charged in the United States with a single count of computer intrusion over his work with whistleblower Chelsea Manning.

Some legal experts have said the additional Espionage Act charges might slow or complicate the extradition process to the extent the United Kingdom views them as political offences and therefore exempt from extradition.

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Manning was freed from prison in 2017 after her sentence was reduced by then-President Barack Obama.

"Mr Assange was arrested in relation to a provisional extradition request from the United States of America".

"The American authorities, the Department of Justice, will present the evidence in support of their extradition demand", Kristinn Hrafnsson told reporters. Mr. Hrafnsson said Mr. Assange had been transferred to the prison hospital and it's unclear whether he will be able to attend Friday's hearing.

The "first real confrontation of arguments" in court will not be for several weeks or months, Mr Hrafnsson said.

The 18 charges against Mr Assange reject his claim he was simply a publisher receiving leaked material - which would be protected under press freedom legislation. I doubt it, ' Mr Hrafnsson said.

"The Department takes seriously the role of journalists in our democracy and we thank you for it", U.S. Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers previously said when the Justice Department announced charged against the WikiLeaks publisher. Ai Weiwei will be joined by Assange's father, Richard Assange.