Julian Assange's team to appeal though 'every avenue' after extradition order signed

ITV News Political Correspondent Carl Dinnen reports on the legal fight to stop Julian Assange being sent to the US continuing despite the home secretary signing an order to extradite him

Julian Assange's lawyers will use "every avenue" to appeal his extradition, his wife Stella has said, describing him as a "political prisoner."

Home Secretary Priti Patel signed an order to extradite the WikiLeaks founder to the US to face espionage charges earlier on Friday.

In a statement, the Home Office said the UK courts found it would not be "oppressive, unjust of an abuse of process" to extradite the Australian.

But WikiLeaks called it a “dark day” for press freedom and British democracy, while Mrs Assange said anyone who cares about free speech should be "deeply ashamed" by the Home Office decision.

The 50-year-old is being held at Belmarsh prison in London after mounting a lengthy battle to avoid being extradited.

Mr Assange’s legal team will submit an appeal and have 14 days to do so.

Stella Assange speaking at a press conference in London. Credit: PA

Mrs Assange told a press conference in central London: “It is extremely difficult when his life is being decided by third parties – making life or death decisions based on politics.

“He’s very strong… we have to fight back. His instinct is to fight back and so is mine.

“We’re going to fight back harder.”

"I will dedicate every waking hour to fight for justice until he is free," she added in a statement.

Jennifer Robinson, lawyer for Mr Assange, reiterated told the press conference they would be appealing the decision to extradite him to the US and will take it "all the way."

She said: “We have 14 days and we will appeal this all the way – if necessary to the European Court of Human Rights.”

Julian Assange has 14 days to appeal. Credit: PA

On the incoming appeal, Kate Goold, a partner at Bindmans law firm, said: “If he still has the desire to fight, which I am sure he does, I think Priti Patel’s decision is not the end.

“There are potential further avenues to appeal that he could utilise. It is unlikely to be the end of Mr Assange in the UK.”

Ms Goold, who has specialised in extradition cases for around 12 years, added: “I think that he may have already lodged an application for permission to appeal on the other arguments he raised in the lower court around the political elements of this matter and freedom of speech.”

Ms Goold said Assange’s lawyers would first need to be granted permission to appeal on those grounds.

Reporting from the press conference, Political Correspondent Carl Dinnen brings the latest on Mr Assange's extradition

A Home Office spokesperson said: “Under the Extradition Act 2003, the Secretary of State must sign an extradition order if there are no grounds to prohibit the order being made.

"Extradition requests are only sent to the Home Secretary once a judge decides it can proceed after considering various aspects of the case.

“On 17 June, following consideration by both the Magistrates Court and High Court, the extradition of Mr Julian Assange to the US was ordered. Mr Assange retains the normal 14-day right to appeal.

“In this case, the UK courts have not found that it would be oppressive, unjust or an abuse of process to extradite Mr Assange.

“Nor have they found that extradition would be incompatible with his human rights, including his right to a fair trial and to freedom of expression, and that whilst in the US he will be treated appropriately, including in relation to his health.”

Groups have long called for Julian Assange to be freed. Credit: PA

Agnes Callamard, Amnesty International secretary general, said the extradition order puts Mr Assange "at great risk" and sends a "chilling message" to journalists.

“If the extradition proceeds, Amnesty International is extremely concerned that Assange faces a high risk of prolonged solitary confinement, which would violate the prohibition on torture or other ill treatment," she said.

“Diplomatic assurances provided by the US that Assange will not be kept in solitary confinement cannot be taken on face value given previous history.

“We call on the UK to refrain from extraditing Julian Assange, for the US to drop the charges, and for Assange to be freed.”