The US Justice Department has officially asked the United Kingdom to hand over WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to the United States to face charges of conspiring to hack into US government computers and violate a law on spying, Reuters has reported.
"Mr Assange was arrested in relation to a provisional extradition request from the United States of America. He is accused of offenses including computer misuse and the unauthorized disclosure of national defence information," said a spokesperson for the UK Home Office.
"We have now received the full extradition request," the official told Reuters.
US and UK security sources said US prosecutors had sent a formal extradition request to British authorities last week shortly before a legal deadline expired. The Washington Post was the first to speak on Tuesday June 11th of the formal presentation of the request.
On April 11th, the police forced the WikiLeaks founder to leave the Ecuadorian embassy, located near the Harrods store in central London. Assange was taken to the embassy there in 2012 when Swedish authorities pursued him for questioning in relation to a sexual assault.
Sources familiar with the extradition request said it was based on an indictment prepared by prosecutors in Alexandria, Virginia, against Assange in May. The list added 17 criminal charges to a previous list prepared in March 2018.
The new charges include a violation of US law on spying. The former indictment alleges that Assange conspired with former US soldier Chelsea Manning to infiltrate a US government computer network.
Manning was arrested and convicted by a military court in 2013 for leaking hundreds of thousands of reports to the US government to WikiLeaks. Former US President Barack Obama reduced her prison sentence from 35 to seven years and she was released in 2017. However, Manning is currently detained for refusing to testify before a major judicial body that continues to investigate WikiLeaks. Manning faces possible daily fines if she continues to refuse to testify.