Highlights

  • Wikileaks documents related to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars
  • Assange was being held at Belmarsh prison in UK

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Explained: WikiLeaks founder Assange's extradition and future of freedom of speech

Julian Assange’s extradition to the US has been approved by UK Home Secretary Priti Patel.

The United Kingdom has approved sending WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to the United States to face criminal charges. Assange is wanted by the American authorities over documents leaked in 2010 and 2011, which the US says broke the law and endangered lives.

Australian-born Assange is being held at high-security Belmarsh prison. The WikiLeaks founder has been in prison or in the Ecuadorian embassy in London for a decade, as he fought attempts to send him to face charges in the US.

A Quick Flashback
Assange has been wanted by the US since 2010 when WikiLeaks released nearly 4,00,000 documents called the Iraq War Logs from the US Department of Defense databases by the intelligence analyst Bradley Manning (who later referred to herself as Chelsea), who acted as a whistle-blower. Manning had copied these files into a CD-ROM and uploaded them onto a WikiLeaks dropbox.

The Charges and Why They Matter
Julian Assange faces 17 criminal charges including a charge under the Espionage act and together they carry a prison term of over 170 years.

All eyes remain on the Assange case as U.S. has never successfully prosecuted a non-government official for publishing or sharing unlawfully leaked classified information and many free speech absolutists highlight strikes at the heart of the First Amendment in the United states.

WikiLeaks took to Twitter to call UK's decision a "A dark day for Press freedom."

As Edward Snowden, the former CIA official who leaked classified information from the National Security Agency in 2013, stated three years ago, “This case will decide the future of media."

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