Julian Assange's father visits son in United Kingdom prison

US officially requests extradition of Julian Assange – reports

US officially requests extradition of Julian Assange – reports

The United States government has formally submitted an extradition request to the United Kingdom for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, a USA official said Tuesday.

"I don't believe that we are going to win this with legal arguments", said the Icelandic journalist Kristinn Hrafnsson, a long-time friend of Mr. Assange who is also editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks.

He was later sentenced to 50 weeks in jail for skipping bail at the time he fled into the Ecuador embassy; at that time, he was wanted in Sweden for questioning on rape allegations made against him by two women.

The Wikileaks founder is facing 18 charges in the U.S. of receiving and publishing classified information.

On April 11, police forcibly removed the WikiLeaks founder from the Ecuadorean Embassy near Harrods department store in central London.

Assange faces an 18-count indictment that accuses him of soliciting and publishing classified information and of conspiring with former Army private Chelsea Manning to crack a Defence Department computer password. A Swedish court recently ruled that Mr. Assange should not be extradited for the sexual-assault case, but investigators still want to question him in London.

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The new charges include violation of a US espionage statute. The treaty bars USA prosecutors from charging Assange with crimes not outlined in the request, making the filing of additional counts against Assange highly unlikely. "Some say that Assange is a journalist and that he should be immune from prosecution for these actions", John Demers, the Assistant Attorney-General for National Security, said when the indictment was filed last month.

Hrafnsson said the charges were "very revealing about the nature of this entire case". The journalist could face more than 170 years behind bars.

"Mr Assange was arrested in relation to a provisional extradition request from the United States of America". "My most urgent concern is that, in the United States, Mr. Assange would be exposed to a real risk of serious violations of his human rights", Mr. Melzer said.

A formal request for Assange's extradition was delivered to British authorities last Thursday, just days before a June 11 deadline.

Lawyers for Assange had no immediate comment.

The 47-year-old Australian is not expected to attend Friday's hearing but could take part from prison via video link, although it will be largely procedural.

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