Extradition of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange approved by British judge

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A British judge formally approved the extradition of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange to the United States on Wednesday, forwarding the request to Home Secretary Priti Patel for final approval.

Although Assange still has the means to appeal the decision, the decision represents a major step towards the prosecution of Assange on charges of espionage in the United States related to his publication of sensitive military and diplomatic documents.

JULIAN ASSANGE SUFFERED STROKE DURING OCTOBER APPEAL HEARING, FIANCEE CLAIM

LONDON, ENGLAND – AUGUST 18: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange speaks during a press conference, where he confirmed he will “leave the embassy soon”, at the Ecuadorian Embassy on August 18 August 2014 in London, England. Mr Assange has been living at the embassy since June 2012 in a bid to avoid extradition to Sweden where he faces sexual assault allegations. (Photo by John Stillwell – WPA Pool/Getty Images)

Assange’s lawyers now have four weeks to submit arguments to Patel against his extradition. They can also appeal the case to a higher court, but there is no guarantee the case will be heard, according to the BBC.

The United States has charged Assange with 17 counts of espionage and one count of computer misuse, according to the Justice Department. The charges stem from accusations that he helped former Army data analyst Chelsea Manning illegally obtain sensitive US documents.

CHELSEA MANNING TO RETURN TO JAIL AFTER REFUSING TO TESTIFY TO GRAND JURY PROBING WIKILEAKS

FILE - In this June 5, 2013 file photo Army Pvt.  Chelsea Manning, then Army PFC.  Bradley Manning, is escorted out of a courthouse in Fort Meade, Md., after the third day of a court martial.  (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)
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FILE – In this June 5, 2013 file photo Army Pvt. Chelsea Manning, then Army PFC. Bradley Manning, is escorted out of a courthouse in Fort Meade, Md., after the third day of a court martial. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

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Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison following an arrest in 2010. President Barack Obama, however, commuted Manning’s sentence in 2010, leading to Manning’s release the same year.

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