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Assange’s extradition to U.S. rejected by U.Okay. court docket

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District Judge Vanessa Baraitser stated the 49-year-old Australian writer’s actions in leaking secret paperwork went “well beyond” that of a journalist

A British decide on Monday blocked the extradition of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to the United States to face espionage fees, discovering that he was at critical threat of suicide.

District Judge Vanessa Baraitser stated the 49-year-old Australian writer’s actions in leaking secret paperwork went “well beyond” that of a journalist, and he would have been “well aware” of the hazards the leak posed.

But going through the “harsh conditions” doubtless within the U.S. jail system, Mr. Assange’s psychological health would deteriorate, “causing him to commit suicide” with the willpower of an individual with autism spectrum dysfunction, she dominated, siding with a analysis by psychologists.

Inside the Old Bailey Court in central London, Mr. Assange wiped his brow as the choice was introduced whereas his fiancee Stella Moris burst into tears and was embraced by WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Kristinn Hrafnsson.

Ms. Moris, who has two younger sons with Mr. Assange, stated the ruling was “a victory” however she wouldn’t rejoice till he was free and likewise appealed to U.S. President Donald Trump.

“End this now,” she stated exterior the court docket. “Tear down these prison walls, that our little boys have their father, for Julian, the press, for all of us.”

Mr Assange’s supporters who had gathered since early morning, defying police warnings to disperse due to coronavirus restrictions, erupted in cheers and shouted “Free Assange!”

The ruling follows greater than a decade of authorized controversies. Mr. Assange and his attorneys have lengthy argued that the protracted case was politically motivated.

However, the U.S. authorities gave discover that it’ll problem the choice, and has two weeks to attraction.

Mr. Assange was remanded in custody till a bail listening to on Wednesday.

Any determination to dam extradition ought to meet a excessive bar given Britain’s treaty obligations, Ms. Baraitser stated.

But she rejected U.S. specialists’ testimony that Mr. Assange could be shielded from self-harm, noting that others equivalent to disgraced U.S. financier Jeffrey Epstein had managed to kill themselves in custody regardless of wardens’ supervision.

“For this reason I have decided extradition would be oppressive by reason of mental harm and I order his discharge,” she stated.

The U.S. non-profit Freedom of the Press Foundation stated the case in opposition to Mr. Assange was “the most dangerous threat to U.S. press freedom in decades”.

“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.”

Fugitive U.S. whistleblower Edward Snowden stated he hoped the ruling would mark “the end” of the case in opposition to Mr. Assange.

Mr. Assange is needed on 18 fees within the U.S. referring to the 2010 launch by WikiLeaks of 500,000 secret recordsdata detailing elements of navy campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq. If convicted within the United States, he faces as much as 175 years in jail.

Before the ruling, each Germany and a UN rights skilled expressed concern over the human rights and humanitarian issues introduced by the extradition.

Assange has a historical past of melancholy and a respiratory situation that makes him extra weak to COVID-19, which has contaminated a number of inmates on the high-security jail the place he has been held in London.

He has additionally complained of listening to imaginary voices and music throughout his detention.

UN particular rapporteur on torture Nils Melzer has urged Trump to pardon Assange, saying he isn’t “an enemy of the American people”.

The prospect of a potential pardon from the outgoing U.S. chief has gained floor following a slew of others granted to numerous Trump’s political allies.

The UK listening to was instructed Mr. Trump had promised to pardon Mr. Assange if he testified that Russia had hacked into the pc servers of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) throughout the 2016 election marketing campaign.

WikiLeaks later revealed the emails, which proved politically damaging to Mr. Trump’s Democratic rival Hillary Clinton earlier than the vote.

Washington claims Mr. Assange helped intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning steal the 2010 paperwork earlier than exposing confidential sources around the globe.

After Sweden first issued an arrest warrant for Assange in 2010 over allegations of sexual assault, he sought asylum in Ecuador’s embassy in London, the place he remained from 2012 till 2019.

In April 2019, Ecuador, by then dominated by right-wing President Lenin Moreno, revoked his citizenship. British police dragged Assange out of the embassy.

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