LONDON (AP) — British Home Secretary Sajid Javid says he has signed an extradition order that would send imprisoned WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to the United States if British courts favor the move.

Javid told BBC radio Thursday courts will decide whether Assange must face espionage charges in the U.S.

Assange is scheduled to face an extradition hearing Friday on the U.S. request. A decision is likely months away.

He is serving a 50-week sentence in London's Belmarsh Prison for jumping bail in Britain.

The 47-year-old was too ill to take part in a recent hearing. He is expected to participate in Friday's proceeding via video link.

The US plan to prosecute him for espionage has raised free speech issues. Assange asserts he is a journalist shielded by the First Amendment.

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