London, 4th January: UK judge refuses the US request to extradite Wiki Leaks founder Julian Assange.
Baaghi TV: A British judge has refused a request by the US to extradite WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to face espionage charges over the site’s publication of classified American military documents a decade ago.
According to reports, on Monday the district Judge Vanessa Baraitser gave her ruling at London’s Central Criminal Court, following a three-week extradition hearing last year, saying he was likely to kill himself if held under harsh US prison conditions.
As per a report from AP News, the judge ruled that he was at risk of committing suicide in the US and would use his intellect to circumvent anti-suicide prevention measures.
She said, “For these reasons, extradition would be oppressive by reason of his mental health and I order his discharge.”
The US government said to appeal the decision. Assange’s lawyers plan to ask for his release from a London prison where he has been held for more than a year-and-a-half.
US prosecutors have indicted Assange on 17 espionage charges and one charge of computer misuse. The charges carry a maximum sentence of 175 years in prison.
They now have 14 days to lodge an appeal against the decision and has already asked the court to remand him in custody.
Lawyers for the 49-year-old Australian had argued that he was acting as a journalist and was entitled to First Amendment protections of freedom of speech for publishing leaked documents that exposed US military wrongdoing in Iraq and Afghanistan.
As per news from the Associated Press (AP), the defence had argued that extradition would threaten Assange’s human rights because he risks “a grossly disproportionate sentence” and detention in “draconian and inhumane conditions” that would exacerbate his severe depression and other mental health problems.
As per reports, lawyers for the US government have denied that Assange is being prosecuted merely for publishing the leaked documents, saying the case “is in large part based upon his unlawful involvement” in the theft of the diplomatic documents and military files by US Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning.
The judge’s decision is a major moment in Assange’s decade-long legal limbo in Britain – but not the final chapter.
The US has already stated they intend to appeal to the UK’s High Court in London.
Assange’s legal troubles began in 2010 when he was arrested in London at the request of Sweden, who wanted to question him about allegations of rape and sexual assault made by two women.
In 2012, to avoid being sent to Sweden, Assange sought refuge inside the Ecuadorian Embassy, where he was beyond the reach of the UK and Swedish authorities.
The relationship between Assange and his hosts eventually soured, and he was evicted from the embassy in April 2019. British police arrested him for jumping bail in 2012.
In November 2019, Sweden dropped the sex crimes investigations because too much time had elapsed, but Assange remains in London’s high-security Belmarsh Prison.
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