A British court has officially approved the extradition of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange back to the United States, where he would face multiple espionage charges.
Chief Magistrate Paul Goldspring of the Westminster Magistrates Court issued the order, sending the case to the secretary of state for a final decision, The Scotsman reported.
“In layman’s terms, I am duty-bound to send your case to the Secretary of State for a decision,” Goldspring said as Assange joined the virtual hearing from Belmarsh Prison.
According to BBC, Assange’s fate now relies on British Home Secretary Priti Patel, who will decide whether to extradite him. The controversial hacker faces up to 175 years in U.S. prison for releasing classified information relating to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan through the WikiLeaks website, the Daily Caller reports.
After helping former U.S. Army intelligence officer Chelsea Manning obtain access through computers belonging to the defense department in 2010, Assange fled the U.S. out of fear of repercussions from the government, as previously reported by RSBN.
The classified documents were then published, drawing support for exposing government deceptions and backlash for endangering U.S. national security. WikiLeaks also released damning emails from the DNC and Hillary Clinton during the 2016 presidential election.
According to Breitbart, Assange’s lawyers and supporters have defended his actions, asserting the WikiLeaks founder acted as a journalist with protections under the First Amendment.
Among the many supporters rallying in defense of Assange, former Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn expressed his frustration with the ruling calling the magistrate’s decision “disappointing.”
Nonetheless, Goldman asserted Assange has the right to appeal to the High Court but will not be heard until Patel has made a decision.