US prosecutors have indicted Assange on 17 espionage costs and one cost of laptop misuse over WikiLeaks’ publication of leaked army and diplomatic paperwork a decade in the past
London: A British decide on Monday rejected the United States’ request to extradite WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to face espionage costs, saying he was prone to kill himself if held underneath harsh US jail circumstances.
District Judge Vanessa Baraitser rejected allegations that Assange is being prosecuted for political causes or wouldn’t obtain a good trial within the United States. But she stated his precarious psychological well being would doubtless deteriorate additional underneath the circumstances of “near-total isolation” he would face in US jail.
“I find that the mental condition of Mr Assange is such that it would be oppressive to extradite him to the United States of America,” the decide stated.
She stated Assange was “a depressed and sometimes despairing man” who had the “intellect and determination” to avoid any suicide prevention measures taken by American jail authorities.
The US authorities stated it might attraction the choice. Assange’s attorneys stated they’d ask for his launch from a London jail the place he has been held for greater than a year-and-a-half at a bail listening to on Wednesday.
Assange, who sat within the dock at London’s Central Criminal Court for the ruling, wiped his forehead as the choice was introduced. His companion Stella Moris, with whom he has two younger sons, wept.
Assange’s American lawyer, Barry Pollack, stated the authorized crew was “enormously gratified by the UK court’s decision denying extradition.”
“The effort by the United States to prosecute Julian Assange and seek his extradition was ill-advised from the start,” he stated. “We hope that after consideration of the UK court’s ruling, the United States will decide not to pursue the case further.”
The ruling marks a dramatic second in Assange’s years-long authorized battles in Britain — although doubtless not its last chapter.
US prosecutors have indicted Assange on 17 espionage costs and one cost of laptop misuse over WikiLeaks’ publication of leaked army and diplomatic paperwork a decade in the past. The costs carry a most sentence of 175 years in jail.
Lawyers for the 49-year-old Australian argue that he was appearing as a journalist and is entitled to First Amendment protections of freedom of speech for publishing leaked paperwork that uncovered US army wrongdoing in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The decide, nevertheless, stated Assange’s actions, if confirmed, would “amount to offenses in this jurisdiction that would not be protected by his right to freedom of speech.”
The protection additionally argued throughout a three-week listening to within the fall that extradition threatens Assange’s human rights as a result of he dangers “a grossly disproportionate sentence” and detention in “draconian and inhumane conditions” that might exacerbate his extreme melancholy and different psychological well being issues.
The decide agreed that U.S. jail circumstances could be oppressive. She accepted proof from skilled witnesses that Assange had a depressive dysfunction and an autism spectrum dysfunction.
“I settle for that oppression as a bar to extradition requires a excessive threshold. … However, I’m happy that, in these harsh circumstances, Mr Assange’s psychological well being would deteriorate inflicting him to commit suicide with the ‘single-minded determination’ of his autism spectrum dysfunction,” the decide stated in her ruling.
Lawyers for the US authorities deny that Assange is being prosecuted merely for publishing the leaked paperwork, saying the case “is in large part based upon his unlawful involvement” within the theft of the diplomatic cables and army information by US Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning.
The prosecution of Assange has been condemned by journalists and human rights teams, who say it undermines free speech around the globe.
They welcomed the decide’s resolution, although it was not made on free-speech grounds.
“This is a huge relief to anyone who cares about the rights of journalists,” The Freedom of the Press Foundation tweeted:
“The extradition request was not decided on press freedom grounds; rather, the judge essentially ruled the U.S. prison system was too repressive to extradite. However, the result will protect journalists everywhere.”
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 additionally successfully a prisoner, unable to depart the tiny diplomatic mission in London’s tony Knightsbridge space.
The relationship 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 crimes investigations in November 2019 as a result of a lot time had elapsed, however Assange stays in London’s high-security Belmarsh Prison, delivered to court docket in a jail van all through his extradition listening to.
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