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Assange in UK court today for extradition hearing after Home Secretary signs off on US request

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A request by the US to extradite Julian Assange has been signed by the Home Secretary Sajid Javid ahead of a court hearing on Friday.

By certifying the request, Mr Javid has effectively rubber-stamped it so it can now be considered by the court.

Assange will appear via video before Westminster magistrates on Friday.

The US wants the Wikileaks founder to face charges there related to the leaking of government secrets. Assange opposes the extradition request.

At his last hearing a fortnight ago, Assange, 47, was too ill to appear in court, according to his lawyer.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Mr Javid said he wanted to "see justice done at all times" and added: "We've got a legitimate extension request so I've signed it but the final decision is now with the courts."

Extradition orders by the US and certain other countries need to be rubber-stamped by the home secretary - so long as they meet the necessary criteria - before they can be considered by a court.

Assange is currently serving a 50-week sentence in Belmarsh Prison in south-east London for bail violations after taking refuge in the Ecuadorian Embassy in a bid to avoid extradition to Sweden to face rape charges in 2012.

He spent seven years inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London before being handed over to British authorities by Ecuador in April.

Last month, Swedish prosecutors reopened their investigation into an allegation of rape against Assange, which he denies.

The allegations he faces in the US include computer misuse and the unauthorized disclosure of national defence information.

The US Justice Department indicted Assange on 18 counts that relate to his "alleged role in one of the largest compromises of classified information in the history of the United States", it said.

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