The 50-years-old journalist is wanted in the United States on allegations of disclosing national defense information following WikiLeaks's publication of hundreds of thousands of leaked military documents relating to the Afghanistan and Iraqi wars a decade ago.
Among those disclosures is an Apache helicopter video footage documenting the U.S. military gunning down Reuters journalists and children in Baghdad's streets in 2007. Upon learning about the decision of the British authorities, the WikiLeaks portal described this Friday as a "dark day for freedom of the press and British democracy."
"Anyone in this country who cares about freedom of expression should be deeply ashamed that the Home Secretary has approved the extradition of Julian Assange to the United States, the country that plotted his murder," the portal said.
Patel gave the green light to the extradition after a long legal process in the British courts, which authorized the delivery of Assange to the United States, a country that requires him on charges of alleged espionage.
"Julian did nothing wrong. He has committed no crime and is not a criminal. He is a journalist and an editor, and he is being punished for doing his job. It was in Priti Patel's power to do the right thing. Instead, she will always be remembered as complicit with the United States in its plan to turn investigative journalism into a criminal enterprise," WikiLeaks pointed out.
Most UK mainstream journalists won't be concerned about Assange's extradition since they have no intention of revealing anything important. But for those of us working for the public rather than the state, the system wants to deter us. It won't. https://t.co/bvXfUVPXWe
"Foreign laws now determine the limits of press freedom in this country and the journalism that won the industry's most prestigious awards has been deemed an extraditable offence and worthy of a life sentence," it added.
"The path to Julian's freedom is long and tortuous. Today is not the end of the fight. It is only the beginning of a new legal battle. We will appeal through the legal system, the next appeal will be before the High Court. We will fight louder and shout harder on the streets, we will organize and make Julian's story be known to all," Wikileaks said, recalling that Assange published evidence of corrupt judicial investigations into U.S. wrongdoing.
"Their revenge is to try to make him disappear into the darkest corners of their prison system for the rest of his life... Julian's freedom is coupled to all our freedoms. We will fight to return Julian to his family and to regain freedom of expression for all of us," it added.