London: A British judge has rejected an offer from the Trump administration to extradite Julian Assange to bring charges against WikiLeaks ???? Released classified diplomatic cables a decade ago saying it would pose a suicide risk.
Assange was present in the courtroom of the Old Bailey Monday night (AEDT) to hear the verdict. He wore a dark suit, tie, white shirt, and a dark face mask that covered his mouth but not his nose. He sat in a glass dock with his hands clasped and rested on his left thigh.
District Judge Vanessa Baraitser accepted that Assange was depressed and had Asperger’s. She said the conditions under which he would be detained if sent to the United States would « not prevent Mr. Assange from finding a way to commit suicide ». .
« For these reasons, I have decided that Mr Assange’s mental health extradition would be oppressive and I order his release, » she said.
The US government immediately said it would appeal the decision to the High Court and ordered Assange to remain in custody.
Baraitser did not read her written judgment, but rejected the main arguments of Assange’s attorneys that his actions were justified because he was a journalist when he encouraged intelligence officer Chelsea Manning to interfere in US systems and hundreds of thousands to steal secret and diplomatic cables and publish them unedited on the Internet.
She accepted that his behavior could constitute criminal offenses in England and Wales, a blow to those who have argued that Assange’s actions were those of a free press and should therefore not be prosecuted.
Assange had claimed he was being politically persecuted by US President Donald Trump, but the judge found « little evidence » of this.
She had also denied his claims that his human rights would be violated if he were sent to the United States to be tried and said he would be given a fair hearing.
But she accepted one crucial plank of Assange’s case, which related to the near-lonely conditions in which he would be held in a U.S. prison upon extradition and the implications for his mental health, taking into account the family history of the Australians with suicide and maintaining evidence noted that he was depressed.
« The overall feel is of a depressed and sometimes desperate man who is generally afraid of his future, » she said.
The verdict was posted online immediately after their verdict was pronounced and can be read in full here.
The 49-year-old has been in Belmarsh Prison since September 2019. The US wants to bring him to court on 17 charges that will total 175 years in prison.
Assange’s fiancé and mother of their two children, Max and Gabriel, Stella Moris-Smith Robertson, was also present in court to hear the verdict. She arrived at the Old Bailey with Kristiki Hrafnsson, Editor-in-Chief of WikiLeaks, without commenting.
The judge had previously dismissed pleas to investigate the effects of his extradition on his young family. He said this was « unfortunately nothing unusual in an extradition process ». «
Kristinn Hrafnsson, Editor-in-Chief of WikiLeaks (L) and Julian Assange’s girlfriend Stella Moris (C) arrive as Julian Assange is being taken to the Old Bailey. Photo credit: Getty Images
Monday’s decision is an important development in the 10-year saga. Assange spent almost seven years at the Ecuadorian embassy in London to avoid being extradited to Sweden on allegations of sexual assault.
He was kicked out by his hosts in dramatic scenes in April 2019 when they invited Scotland Yard to enter the embassy and arrest their longtime resident.
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Latika Bourke is a journalist for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age in London.
Julian Assange, WikiLeaks, extradition
World news – AU – Julian Assange is not extradited to the USA for espionage costs
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