Julian Assange: UK choose blocks extradition of Wikileaks founder to US

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The Wikileaks founder Julian Assange cannot be extradited to the USA, a court in London has ruled.

The judge blocked the motion over concerns about Mr. Assange’s mental health and suicide risk in the United States.

Mr Assange, wanted for the publication of thousands of classified information in 2010 and 2011, says the case is politically motivated.

The US Department of Justice expressed disappointment with the verdict and found that its legal arguments had prevailed.

  • Profile: Julian Assange
  • How Britain decides whether to extradite Assange

His position is that the leaks broke the law and put lives at risk.

“While we are extremely disappointed with the final decision by the court, we are pleased that the United States has prevailed on all of the legal issues raised,” said the Justice Department.

The U.S. authorities have 14 days to appeal and are expected to do so.

Image rightsPA MediaImage descriptionMr. Assange appeared at the Old Bailey on Monday

Mr Assange is now being returned to Belmarsh Prison where he is being held and a full bail request will be made on Wednesday.

His attorney, Ed Fitzgerald QC, told the court that there would be evidence that Mr. Assange would not flee.

What did the judge say?

District Judge Vanessa Baraitser ruled that while U.S. prosecutors had passed tests to extradite Mr. Assange for trial, the U.S. could not prevent him from killing himself.

Outlining evidence of his self-harm and thoughts of suicide, she said, “The overall impression is of a depressed and sometimes desperate man who is afraid for his future.”

She said: “Given the conditions of near total isolation without the protective factors that limited his risk at HMP Belmarsh, I am satisfied that the procedures described by the US will not prevent Mr. Assange from finding a way to commit suicide, and it is for this reason that I have decided that the extradition due to mental harm would be oppressive and I order his release. “

Image rightsPA MediaImage descriptionMr. Assange’s partner, lawyer Stella Moris, said: “Today’s victory is a first step towards justice.”

Mr Assange, wearing a blue suit and green face mask in the dock, closed his eyes as the judge read her decision on Monday.

His fiancée Stella Moris, with whom he has two young sons, was crying and was comforted by Wikileaks editor-in-chief Kristinn Hrafnsson, who was sitting next to her in court.

After the verdict, she spoke to the court and asked the US president to “end this now”.

“Mr. President, tear down these prison walls,” she said. “Let our little boys have their father. Free Julian, free the press, free us all.”

Media signatureJulian Assange’s fiancée says she was terrified of going public with their relationship

District Judge Vanessa Baraitser explicitly concluded that Mr. Assange should respond to allegations that he assisted and facilitated hacking, theft, and identity disclosure of informants who work for US security agencies – disclosures that put their lives at risk.

That would be enough under English law to be charged with a crime here – and the way was open for Mr. Assange to be tried in the United States.

However, UK extradition law also requires a judge to consider Mr Assange’s health.

And it was the impact of his possible incarceration in near-solitary confinement in a “Supermax” prison that proved crucial.

According to the judge, the United States cannot prevent a mentally ill man from killing himself under these conditions.

The legal requirement to treat Mr. Assange humanely is beyond the gravity of the case which the judge recognizes that he should respond.

If the US appeals, it will otherwise have to convince more high-ranking judges.

What would Assange experience in the US?

If convicted in the United States, Mr. Assange faces a possible sentence of up to 175 years in prison, his lawyers have said. However, the US government said the sentence would be more likely to be between four and six years.

Mr Assange is charged with 18 charges by the US government for conspiring to hack into US military databases to obtain sensitive classified information about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, which was then posted on the Wikileaks website .

He says the information revealed abuses committed by the US military.

But US prosecutors say the leaks of classified material endanger lives, so the US sought extradition from the UK.

Extradition is the process by which one country can ask another country to bring a suspect to justice.

What was the reaction?

Following the verdict, several politicians and organizations welcomed the news, although some expressed dismay that the decision was made on health grounds:

  • Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said he had directed his foreign minister, Mr Assange, who is “a journalist and deserves a chance”, to offer political asylum.
  • “Good news The extradition of Julian Assange has been blocked,” said Conservative British MP David Davis on Twitter. “Extradition treaties should not be used for political persecution”
  • Former British union leader Jeremy Corbyn called it “good news” but said it was “alarming that the judge has accepted arguments from the US government threatening freedom of expression and publication”.

Image rightsEPAImage descriptionSupporters of Mr. Assange gathered outside the Old Bailey Monday

  • Amnesty International welcomed the verdict, but criticized the UK for “participating in this politically motivated process at the behest of the US and bringing freedom of the media and expression to justice”.
  • The head of the National Union of Journalists, Michelle Stanistreet, said the result was “the right one,” but the verdict contained “much that is worrying”.
  • Journalist and documentary filmmaker John Pilger, who campaigned for Mr. Assange, tweeted it was “wonderful,” adding that the British verdict “saved the face of the British to justify their shameful political trial of Assange on behalf of America.” “”

Media signatureJulian Assange’s father fears the extradition of his “worried” son

Mr Assange was sentenced to 50 weeks in prison in May 2019 for violating his bail after hiding in the Ecuadorian embassy in London.

From 2012 until his arrest in April 2019, he sought refuge in the embassy for seven years.

When he fled to the embassy, ​​he was extradited to Sweden for alleged sexual assault, which he denied. This case was later dropped.

Media signatureWho is Julian Assange?

Related topics

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  • Wikileaks
  • United States
  • Julian Assange

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