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British foreign secretary says he wouldn't block extradition of Julian Assange

Top British diplomat wouldn't block Assange extradition
British foreign secretary says he wouldn't block Assange extradition 11:40

The U.K.'s top diplomat said he would not stand in the way of Julian Assange's extradition to the U.S., a move the Justice Department has requested since the WikiLeaks founder was expelled from the Ecuadorian embassy in London and arrested by British authorities in April.

Pressed on the U.S. government's extradition request for Assange, British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, one of the high-profile Conservative politicians vying to replace outgoing Prime Minister Theresa May, expressed no sympathy for Assange and said he would not block an extradition if he was chosen to lead the British government. 

"Well, we would have to follow our own legal processes, just as the U.S. has to follow its own legal processes," Hunt told "Face the Nation" Sunday. "But would I want to stand in the way of Julian Assange facing justice? No, I would not."

After Ecuador withdrew Assange's asylum in early April, British police entered the embassy and arrested him for failing to appear in court in relation to an extradition request by the government in Sweden, where he faces allegations of sexual abuse. He has since been sentenced to 50 weeks of imprisonment by the British judiciary.   

Almost immediately after his arrest, the Justice Department, invoking an extradition treaty with the U.K., unveiled a sealed indictment from 2018 against Assange, accusing him of conspiring with former U.S. intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning and attempting to commit computer intrusion. Last month, a federal grand jury in Virginia indicted Assange on 17 felony counts for allegedly violating the Espionage Act by working with Manning to release thousands of classified U.S. diplomatic and military cables. 

Asked about concerns raised by United Nations officials about Assange's imprisonment and possible extradition, Hunt said what has has happened to the Wikileaks founder in recent weeks is the "right thing." 

"Julian Assange is someone who is alleged to have committed some very serious crimes, alleged to have led to people's deaths," he added. "And so it is absolutely right that he faces justice, and he has no more reason to escape justice than anyone else who is alleged to have committed crimes."

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