By: Aaron Kim, Insider Threat Analyst
Julian Assange, WikiLeaks founder is one step closer to being extradited to the United States. Priti Patel, the interior minister will decide whether Assange should be extradited to face charges relating to leaking confidential U.S. documents. Assange is wanted in the US on 18 criminal charges after WikiLeaks published thousands of classified files and diplomatic cables in 2010.
The charges, filed under the 1917 Espionage Act, stem from Wikileaks’ publication of thousands of U.S. diplomatic cables and files, many of them classified, in 2010 during the Obama Administration. The documents had been leaked by Chelsea Manning, a former U.S. Army Private whose sentence was commuted by President Barack Obama. If convicted, he faces up to 175 years in prison.
In 2012, Assange fled the United States and European jurisdictions and taken refuge in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where he remained until 2019. That year, Ecuador revoked his asylum and citizenship after disputes over his behavior and was reported that he was forcibly dragged by British police out of the embassy. Since then, he has been imprisoned at a London prison.
Assange gained additional notoriety during the 2016 U.S. presidential election when WikiLeaks published emails obtained from the Democratic National Committee, revealing the organization had favored Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders during that year’s Democratic Primary election. They also published emails by then-Clinton Campaign chairman John Podesta, which contained extracts of Clinton’s paid speeches to corporate and banking clients. Assange has not been charged for these leaks.
However, Supporters and lawyers for Assange argue that he was acting as a journalist and is entitled to First Amendment protections of freedom of speech for publishing documents that exposed US military wrongdoing in Iraq and Afghanistan. They argue that his case is politically motivated.
Assange has denied any wrongdoings.
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