British Home Secretary Sajid Javid has signed an extradition order to send Julian Assange to the United States.
- The US Justice Department this week formally requested Britain extradite Assange
- Assange’s lawyer Jennifer Robinson said the signing of the order was a normal part of the process
- The WikiLeaks founder is due to face court in London on Friday for the extradition hearing
The US Justice Department this week formally requested Britain extradite Assange to face charges that he conspired to hack government computers and violated an espionage law.
Mr Javid told the BBC the final decision on Assange’s extradition would be up to the court.
“There’s an extradition request from the US that is before the courts tomorrow, but yesterday I signed the extradition order, certified it, and that will be going in front of the courts tomorrow,” he said.
“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’s lawyer Jennifer Robinson told the ABC the signing of the order was a normal part of the process and the extradition challenge now begins.
Assange, who is currently serving a 50-week jail sentence for skipping bail, is due to face court in London on Friday for the extradition hearing.
The WikiLeaks founder was arrested by British police and carried from the Ecuadorean embassy after his South American hosts abruptly revoked his seven-year asylum in April.
The United States charged him with conspiracy to commit computer intrusion, which carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison, shortly after.
He is accused of conspiring with former US Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to crack passwords to gain access to classified information, which was subsequently posted on WikiLeaks.
Sweden has since reopened its own investigation into a 2010 rape allegation made against Assange.
Earlier this month, the Uppsala District Court rejected a request from prosecutors to detain him in absentia.
The ruling does not mean the preliminary rape investigation must be abandoned, only that Assange won’t be extradited to Sweden for now.