British Home Secretary Sajid Javid told BBC Radio 4 on Thursday that he has received and signed a U.S. extradition request for WikiLeaks chief Julian Assange. Assange is currently serving a 50-week sentence in London's Belmarsh prison for skipping parole, and "he's rightly behind bars," Javid said. "There is an extradition request from the U.S. that is before the courts tomorrow but yesterday I signed the extradition order and certified it and that will be going in front of the courts tomorrow."
Javid's signature paves the way for British courts to send Assange to the U.S., where he faces an 18-count indictment for soliciting and publishing classified documents and computer hacking, including controversial charges under the Espionage Act. "The final decision is now with the courts," Javid said. Swedish prosecutors had sought to file a competing extradition request, but a Swedish court complicated that effort last week by denying a request for Assange's detention. Friday's court hearing had originally been scheduled for May, but Assange was too ill to appear in court; the upcoming hearing may be held at Belmarsh, depending on Assange's condition. Peter Weber