Julian Assange: Wikileaks founder cannot be extradited to US, British judge rules

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange cannot be extradited to the US to face espionage charges, a UK court has ruled.

District Judge Vanessa Baraitser said at the Old Bailey on Monday that, due to the real risk of suicide, the 49-year-old should not be extradited by “reason of mental health”.

Assange, who sat in the dock of Court 2 in a blue suit and wearing a green face mask below his nose, closed his eyes as the judge read out her ruling.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

He is not expected to be freed from high-security Belmarsh Prison immediately as the US government are likely to appeal, but he can make a fresh application for bail.

Piers Corbyn (left) outside the Old Bailey, London, ahead of a judgement in the Julian Assange extradition case. Wikileaks founder Assange, 49, faces an 18-count indictment, alleging a plot to hack computers and a conspiracy to obtain and disclose national defence information.
Piers Corbyn (left) outside the Old Bailey, London, ahead of a judgement in the Julian Assange extradition case. Wikileaks founder Assange, 49, faces an 18-count indictment, alleging a plot to hack computers and a conspiracy to obtain and disclose national defence information.

Assange is wanted to face an 18-count indictment, alleging a plot to hack computers and a conspiracy to obtain and disclose national defence information.

The case follows WikiLeaks’ publication of hundreds of thousands of leaked documents in 2010 and 2011 relating to the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, as well as diplomatic cables.

Prosecutors say Assange helped US defence analyst Chelsea Manning breach the Espionage Act in unlawfully obtaining material, was complicit in hacking by others, and published classified information that put the lives of US informants in danger.

Assange denies plotting with Manning to crack an encrypted password on US Department of Defence computers and says there is no evidence that anyone’s safety was put at risk.

His legal team argued that the prosecution is political and said Assange, who has been diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome and severe depression, is a high suicide risk if he is extradited.

A message from the Editor:

Thank you for reading this article. We're more reliant on your support than ever as the shift in consumer habits brought about by coronavirus impacts our advertisers.

If you haven't already, please consider supporting our trusted, fact-checked journalism by taking out a digital subscription.

 0 comments

Want to join the conversation? Please or to comment on this article.