Assange Wins Case Against Extradition To US

Image Credits: Tayfun Salci/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images.

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange will not be extradited to the US after a shock ruling in his favour at London’s Old Bailey courthouse.

District Judge Vanessa Baraitser ruled that extradition at this point to the US to face 18 counts of espionage would worsen Assange’s already extremely fragile mental state.

“Faced with conditions of near total isolation … I am satisfied that the procedures (outline by U.S. authorities) will not prevent Mr. Assange from finding a way to commit suicide,” she said.

In September, psychiatrist Michael Kopelman testified that Assange has “begun making preparations to end his own life including confessing to a Catholic priest, drafting farewell letters to his family and drafting a will.”

Since his dramatic arrest at the Ecuadorian Embassy in April 2019, Assange has been languishing in Belmarsh, a notoriously horrid maximum security prison housing murderers and terrorists. For much of the time Assange has been kept heavily medicated in solitary confinement.

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During the conclusion of today’s hearing, the judge ruled however that freedom of speech rights do not provide “unfettered discretion by Mr Assange to decide what he’s going to publish”.

The judge added Assanges activities went far beyond “encouraging a journalist,” and do constitute ‘conspiracy’ to hack US government computers.

The New York Times described the ruling as “…a major victory against the U.S. authorities who have accused him of conspiring to hack government computers and violating the Espionage Act with the release of confidential communications in 2010 and 2011.”

Assange supporters gathered outside the court celebrated the ruling:

The US now has 15 days to appeal the ruling. Given that the judge did validate the prosecution’s case against Assange, it is expected that the US legal team will now try to argue that Assange’s risk of suicide is not as heightened as the defence has suggested.