London, June 13: The United Kingdom has formally approved the United States' request seeking the extradition of Julian Assange, the co-founder of WikiLeaks. The 47-year-old has been levelled with espionage charges, including attempts to hijack classified government computers, by the American probing agencies.
The formal request seeking his extradition was issued by the US Justice Department on Wednesday. A day later, UK Home Secretary Sajid Javid was quoted as saying by the local media that he has signed the documents approving Assange's extradition. Swedish Prosecutors Request Julian Assange’s Detention Over Rape Investigation
The UK Home Office said in a statement, "Mr Assange was arrested in relation to a provisional extradition request from the United States of America. He is accused of offences including computer misuse and the unauthorised disclosure of national defence information."
"We have received the full extradition request, which has been certified by the Home Secretary." This case is now before the courts and it would be inappropriate to comment further.
The US will detail all charges against Assange on Friday when it seeks his extradition in a London court. US prosecutors initially charged Assange with a single count of computer intrusion, but last month added 17 new counts, including controversial charges under the Espionage Act for encouraging, receiving and publishing national defence information in concert with former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning.
It should be noted that according to a US-UK treaty, the extradition request must be made within 60 days of an arrest. Assange was arrested on April 11 at the Ecuadoran Embassy in London.
The treaty further bars the US from prosecuting Assange for any other crime beyond those outlined in the extradition request.Assange is currently serving 50 weeks imprisonment sentence in UK's Belmarsh prison for skipping bail to avoid being sent to Sweden over sexual assault allegations.
The Australian whistleblower has denied the allegations against him, asserting that they were politically motivated.The US is seeking his extradition on charges of violating the Espionage Act and conspiring to hack into a classified government computer. The charges, if proved, carry a maximum penalty of five years.
(With ANI inputs)