Wikileaks: UK court blocks Julian Assange’s extradition to US

A United Kingdom court has ruled that Julian Assange, founder of Wikileaks, cannot be extradited to the United States to face trial for allegedly violating the Espionage Act.

Assange, who was accused of releasing secret documents that embarrassed the United States government, was arrested by the British police in April 2019.

He had been on the run for years following the publication of classified documents – which the US said broke the law and endangered lives.

At the court sitting on Monday, Vanessa Baraitser, a district judge, ruled that the extradition of the Australian would be “oppressive by reason of mental harm and I order his discharge.”

She said his detention in the US would subject him to “the bleak prospect of severely restrictive detention conditions designed to remove physical contact and reduce social interaction and contact with the outside world to a bare minimum”.

She also outlined evidence of his self-harm, arguing thus: “The overall impression is of a depressed and sometimes despairing man fearful for his future.”

“Faced with the conditions of near-total isolation without the protective factors which limited his risk at HMP Belmarsh, I am satisfied the procedures described by the US will not prevent Mr Assange from finding a way to commit suicide and for this reason, I have decided extradition would be oppressive by reason of mental harm and I order his discharge,” the judge was quoted to have said.

The ruling at the Central Criminal Court in London has been described as “a major turning point” in a legal battle to prosecute Assange.

The US prosecutors have, however, said they would appeal the ruling in a case that the publisher has said is politically motivated. TheCable


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