U.K. judge rejects U.S. request to extradite WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on spy charges

London — A British choose rejected on Monday america’ request to extradite WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to face espionage costs, saying it will be “oppressive” due to his psychological well being. District Decide Vanessa Baraitser mentioned Assange was prone to commit suicide if despatched to the U.S.

The U.S. authorities mentioned it will enchantment the choice.

U.S. prosecutors have indicted Assange on 17 espionage costs and one cost of pc misuse over WikiLeaks’ publication of leaked navy and diplomatic paperwork a decade in the past. The fees carry a most sentence of 175 years in jail.

Attorneys for the 49-year-old Australian argue that he was appearing as a journalist and is entitled to First Modification protections of freedom of speech for publishing leaked paperwork that uncovered U.S. navy wrongdoing in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In closing submissions, Assange’s authorized group accused america of an “extraordinary, unprecedented and politicized” prosecution that sought to “criminalize acquiring and publishing data regarding ‘nationwide safety.'”

The protection argued that extradition threatened Assange’s human rights as a result of he dangers “a grossly disproportionate sentence” and detention in “draconian and inhumane circumstances” that will exacerbate his extreme despair and different psychological well being issues.

Attorneys for the U.S. authorities deny that Assange is being prosecuted merely for publishing the leaked paperwork, saying the case “is largely primarily based upon his illegal involvement” within the theft of the diplomatic cables and navy information by U.S. Military intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning.

The choose’s resolution is a serious second in Assange’s decade-long authorized limbo in Britain — however not the ultimate chapter, as made clear by the looming U.S. enchantment.

Assange’s accomplice, Stella Moris, who had two sons with him whereas he lived within the embassy, has appealed to President Donald Trump to pardon Assange earlier than Mr. Trump leaves workplace on January 20.

The prosecution of Assange has been condemned by journalists and human rights teams, who say it undermines free speech all over the world.

“The mere undeniable fact that this case has made it to court docket, not to mention gone on this lengthy, is a historic, large-scale assault on freedom of speech,” mentioned WikiLeaks spokesman Kristinn Hrafnsson. “This can be a combat that impacts every individual’s proper to know and is being fought collectively.”

Assange’s authorized troubles started in 2010 when he was arrested in London on the request of Sweden, which needed to query him about allegations of rape and sexual assault made by two ladies. In 2012, to keep away from being despatched to Sweden, Assange sought refuge contained in the Ecuadorian Embassy, the place he was past the attain of U.Ok. and Swedish authorities – but in addition successfully a prisoner, unable to depart the tiny diplomatic mission in London’s tony Knightsbridge space.

The connection between Assange and his hosts ultimately soured, and he was evicted from the embassy in April 2019. British police instantly arrested him for leaping bail in 2012.

Sweden dropped the intercourse crime investigations in November 2019 as a result of a lot time had elapsed, however Assange stays in London’s high-security Belmarsh Jail, delivered to court docket in a jail van all through his extradition listening to.

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