Julian Assange is a step closer to being extradited to the United States to face charges of conspiring to hack government computers and of violating espionage law.
It comes after the US government won its appeal in London’s High Court against an earlier ruling, which determined the WikiLeaks founder should not face extradition due to his mental condition.
Here’s what could happen next.
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Hang on, what charges is Julian Assange facing again?
US authorities have accused the 50-year-old of conspiring to hack government computers and of violating an espionage law in connection with the release of confidential cables by WikiLeaks in 2010-2011.
US prosecutors and Western security officials regard Assange as an enemy of the state whose actions endangered the lives of agents whose names were in the material he is accused of leaking.
US authorities say more than 100 people were put at risk by the disclosures, with some fleeing their home countries with their spouses and families to move to the United States or another safe country.
Assange is facing up to 175 years in prison over the 17 espionage charges and one charge of computer misuse over the leaks.
However, the US government said in its appeal that a sentence of between three and six years was more likely.
So why did the US win its appeal to extradite Julian Assange?
Put simply, Judge Timothy Holroyde — who presided over the case — said the US had given assurances to the United Kingdom about Assange’s detention.
An earlier extradition request was rejected in January on the basis of Assange’s mental condition and risk of suicide.
But Judge Holroyde said he was satisfied with the updated conditions, including a pledge not to hold him in a so-called “ADX” maximum security prison in Colorado.
US authorities say he could also be transferred to Australia to serve his sentence if convicted.
So does this mean Julian Assange will be extradited?
In his ruling, Judge Holroyde ordered that the case be sent back to Westminster Magistrates’ Court, with Home Secretary Priti Patel to make the final decision on whether to extradite him.
However, further hurdles remain before he could be sent to the US.
Assange’s lawyer has vowed to appeal, meaning the legal wrangling will go to the Supreme Court, the United Kingdom’s final court of appeal.
“It is highly disturbing that a UK court has overturned a decision not to extradite Julian Assange, accepting vague assurances by the United States government,” said Assange’s lawyer, Barry Pollack.
“Mr Assange will seek review of this decision by the UK Supreme Court.”
So what happens to Julian Assange in the meantime?
The WikiLeaks founder has been remanded in custody, and will remain in Belmarsh prison
He’s been in the high-security facility since he was dragged out of the Ecuadorian embassy in London in April 2019 and arrested for skipping bail seven years earlier during a separate legal battle.
He spent seven years holed up inside the embassy after fleeing there in 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden in the face of rape and sexual assault allegations.
Sweden dropped the sex crimes investigations in November 2019 because too much time had elapsed.