A UK district court judge has denied WikiLeaks extradition America’s founder Julian Assange.
At a hearing in Westminster Magistrate’s Court this morning, Judge Vanessa Barrator denied extradition on the grounds that Assange is a suicidal risk and extradition to the US prison system would be atrocious, potentially impacting her fragile mental health.
The US, which is seeking to bring Assange to the country to stand trial for a conspiracy of hacking, along with several charges under the disputed espionage act, said it would appeal.
The case has been seen as a decisive test of press freedom and freedom of expression versus state power.
In the decision, Barraceter rejected several other defense arguments against Assange’s extradition, but said with clinical testimony that he was a suicidal risk and had the intelligence to circumvent the measures that cost him his life. Can be lifted to stop.
The 132-year judgment reads, “I am satisfied that Mr. Assange will commit suicide,” discussing the testimony of several psychiatrists during last year’s extradition hearing.
“I acknowledge that extradition as a one-time requirement for extradition requires a higher threshold. I also acknowledge that there is a strong public interest to give effect to the obligations of the treaty and is an important factor to keep in mind. However, I am satisfied that, under these harsh conditions, Mr. Assange’s mental health will deteriorate, leading him to commit suicide with a “single-thought determination” of his autism spectrum disorder.
“I think Mr. Assange’s mental state is such that extraditing him to the United States would be oppressive,” he said.
The decision orders Assange’s immediate release, although the founder of WikiLeaks remains in custody at the time of writing – pending a bail hearing.
The US has 14 days to defend the appeal.
Assange, who (himself) was imprisoned at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London between 2012 and 2019 to escape a warrant against him, was arrested last year after Ecuador withdrew his diplomatic asylum.
He was convicted in a UK court for breaching bail conditions and sentenced to 50 weeks.
The US immediately said it would seek his extradition on its separate roster of charges – which relate to how the information leaked was leaked by WikiLeaks founder and former army intelligence analyst and whistleblower, Chelsea Manning.