Australia will not challenge the extradition of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange to the United States and trusts the British judicial system, a senior government minister said on Thursday.
A British court issued a formal order on Wednesday for the Australian citizen to be extradited to the United States, where he will stand trial for publishing a trove of secret files related to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
If convicted, he could face up to 175 years in prison.
“We have confidence in the independence and integrity of the British justice system,” Australian Senator Simon Birmingham told national broadcaster ABC on Thursday.
The Australian government did not oppose the extradition, he said.
“This is a process that will be able to continue to work through that system,” said Birmingham, who is Australia’s finance minister.
Following the British court’s order, Assange’s lawyers have until May 18 to make submissions to Britain’s Home Secretary Priti Patel, on whom the final decision on his extradition rests.
Birmingham noted that Assange’s right of appeal was upheld (he can appeal to the High Court) and said Australia would continue to provide consular assistance to its imprisoned citizen.
A coalition of 25 human rights groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union, Human Rights Watch and Reporters Without Borders, has questioned Assange’s extradition saying he poses a “serious threat to press freedom both in the United States and abroad.” abroad”.
The Australian has been fighting to avoid extradition for more than a decade, dramatically taking refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in London in 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden on sexual assault charges.
He has been held at Belmarsh High Security Prison in London since 2019 for skipping bail on the Swedish charges, which were dropped in 2020.
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