The US Justice Department has formally submitted its extradition request for Julian Assange to the United Kingdom, American media report, citing government sources. The notice, which by law had to be provided to British authorities within 60 days following Assange’s arrest on April 11, was sent on Thursday, the Washington Post reports.
The whistleblower is set to appear in court on June 12, where his fate could be decided. In the US, the WikiLeaks co-founder is wanted on 18 counts, including charges under the Espionage Act for receiving and publishing top secret information obtained by former military intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning. If proven guilty, the Australian-born publisher could face up to 175 years in prison.
Assange continues to maintain his innocence while incarcerated in HM Prison Belmarsh following the suspension of his seven-year-long political asylum at the Ecuadorian embassy in London and his subsequent arrest two months ago.