Sun, 12 Jul 2020

Washington DC [USA], Jun 11 (ANI): The United States Justice Department has delivered a formal request to the UK authorities for the extradition of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange on the charges of violating the Espionage Act and conspiring to hack into a classified government computer.

A US official who spoke to the Washinton Post on the condition of anonymity over the matter, disclosed that the said request was sent to the UK on June 6 (Thursday).

It should be noted that according to a US-UK treaty, the extradition request must be made within 60 days of an arrest. Assange was arrested on April 11 at the Ecuadoran Embassy in London. The treaty further bars the US from prosecuting Assange for any other crime beyond those outlined in the extradition request.

Assange is currently serving 50 weeks imprisonment sentence in UK's Belmarsh prison for skipping bail to avoid being sent to Sweden over sexual assault allegations. The Australian whistleblower has denied the allegations against him, asserting that they were politically motivated.

The US is seeking his extradition on charges of violating the Espionage Act and conspiring to hack into a classified government computer. The charges, if proved, carries a maximum penalty of five years. The Justice Department, however, has backed down on plans to charge Assange for the infamous Vault 7 leak due to time constraints and concerns that the move could result in the leaking of more classified documents, reported Sputnik.

Vault 7 refers to the collection of over 8,700 documents published by WikiLeaks in 2017 which detailed the CIA's cyber operations and stealth hacking tools, including viruses, trojans and other "weaponised" malware.

Although the CIA has neither confirmed nor contested the authenticity of the disclosed files, they are understood to be genuine, according to statements by former CIA staffer and whistleblower Edward Snowden, and other unnamed government officials. (ANI)

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