Julian Assange loses US extradition challenge, will renew appeal next week

FILE PHOTO: Supporters of Julian Assange display signs and a banner, outside the Royal Courts of Justice in London, Britain December 10, 2021. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls

LONDON (Reuters) - WikiLeaks' founder Julian Assange has lost his latest attempt to fight extradition from Britain to the United States where he is wanted on criminal charges, though he will renew his appeal next week.

Assange, 51, is wanted by U.S. authorities on 18 charges relating to WikiLeaks' release of vast troves of confidential U.S. military records and diplomatic cables.

Britain has given the go-ahead for his extradition and a judge at London's High Court ruled this week that Assange had no legal grounds to challenge the decision, according to a court order published on Friday.

However, his wife Stella Assange said there will be a hearing next week at which Assange will again appeal against the decision to extradite him.

"We remain optimistic that we will prevail and that Julian will not be extradited to the United States where he faces charges that could result in him spending the rest of his life in a maximum security prison for publishing true information that revealed war crimes committed by the U.S. government," she said on Twitter.

In January 2021, a British judge ruled Australian-born Assange should not be extradited, saying his mental health meant he would be at risk of suicide if convicted and held in a maximum security prison.

But that decision was overturned after an appeal by U.S. authorities who gave a package of assurances, including a pledge he could be transferred to Australia to serve any sentence.

The extradition was signed off by the then-British interior minister last June.

WikiLeaks first came to prominence in 2010 when it released hundreds of thousands of secret classified files and diplomatic cables in what was the largest security breach of its kind in U.S. military history.

(Reporting by Sam Tobin; editing by William James)

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