By Adi Robertson, The Verge

UK Home Secretary Priti Patel has approved an American request to extradite WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Patel signed the order on June 17th, bringing Assange one step closer to facing espionage charges in the US.

Assange’s legal counsel plans to appeal the decision before the UK’s High Court. “This is a dark day for press freedom and for British democracy,” WikiLeaks said in a statement. “Julian did nothing wrong.”

A mobile billboard featuring WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on it is parked at Lincoln Inn Fields in London

Patel’s approval follows a series of legal losses for Assange. In December, the UK’s High Court approved Assange’s extradition, concluding that US authorities had credibly promised humane treatment in the American prison system. He was later refused an appeal by the UK Supreme Court, leaving a judge to refer the final decision to Patel. In the US, Assange would face 17 counts of violating espionage law and one count of violating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, stemming from his work with whistleblower Chelsea Manning to publish classified American military documents. The claims carry a theoretical maximum of 175 years in prison, but the US government has indicated it’s seeking a far shorter sentence.

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