British Interior Minister Sajid Javid Signs Fateful Order! Assange to Be Extradited to US
The US Justice Department has officially asked the UK to extradite Julian Assange. It's yet unknown what charges the extradition request lists as the US has barely filed it on time. The hearing starts on Friday. And the WikiLeaks founder's lawyers are going to do their best so as not to swap a year in a British prison for 175 years in an American one.
Alexander Khabarov is reporting.
After British Interior Minister Sajid Javid signed a formal request for the extradition of Julian Assange, the latter must stand another trial in the Westminster Magistrates' Court, which will be the first stage to decide his fate. The United States accuses Assange of having violated the law on espionage 17 times and disclosed classified information. He might face up to 175 years in prison there.
Assange is now in the Belmarsh prison, London, where he is serving a one-year term for violating the conditions of bail. The institution is famous for its strict regimen. The founder of WikiLeaks can only have two visitations per month. The last visitor to Assange was his father, John Shipton.
John Shipton, Julian Assange's father: "Julian has lost about 10 kg, he is under serious psychological pressure. But he is determined and strong in spirit, Julian will continue the struggle. He does not have access to the library or computer, which makes it extremely difficult to prepare for the trial2.
In fact, Assange could be released from an English prison after he served half the term there. But given the US extradition request, chances are slim. Lawyers representing the founder of WikiLeaks claim that the British judiciary is now under heavy pressure and will not be able to resist his extradition.
Christophe Marchand, Julian Assange's lawyer: "We have a lot of documents confirming that Assange is not guaranteed a fair trial in the United States. He'll be locked up for a hundred years and surely, he will never be released. And this is because he made public the information which doesn't go in line with the US interests. The process is expected to be long. It will last for years until we pass all courts, up to the European Court of Human Rights. I hope we will manage to bring the matter into the public eye as I, personally, have already lost faith in the fairness of the judiciary in this country".
Nils Melzer, UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, considers the prosecution of the WikiLeaks founder a psychological torture by the authorities of Great Britain, the United States and Sweden. By the way, the Swedish court did not demand the extradition of Assange for the second time, giving way to American colleagues.
Alexander Khabarov, Ilya Mordyukov for Vesti from London.