Julian Assange: Wikileaks founder extradition to US blocked by UK judge

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Wikileaks founder Julian Assange cannot be extradited to the United States, a court in London has ruled.

The judge blocked the request because of concerns over Mr Assange’s mental health and risk of suicide in the US.

The 49-year-old is wanted over the publication of thousands of classified documents in 2010 and 2011.

The US claims the leaks broke the law and endangered lives. Mr Assange has fought the extradition and says the case is politically motivated.

The US authorities have 14 days in which to lodge an appeal and are expected to do so.

Mr Assange will now be taken back to Belmarsh Prison – where he is being held – and a full application for his bail will be made on Wednesday.

His lawyer Ed Fitzgerald QC told the court there will be evidence to show Mr Assange will not abscond.

Court artist sketch by Elizabeth Cook of Julian Assange appearing at the Old Bailey in London for the ruling in his extradition case.
image captionMr Assange appeared at the Old Bailey on Monday

District Judge Vanessa Baraitser ruled that while US prosecutors met the tests for Mr Assange to be extradited for trial, the US was incapable of preventing him from attempting to take his own life.

She outlined evidence of his self harm and suicidal thoughts and said: “The overall impression is of a depressed and sometimes despairing man fearful for his future.”

She said: “Faced with the conditions of near total isolation without the protective factors which limited his risk at HMP Belmarsh, I am satisfied the procedures described by the US will not prevent Mr Assange from finding a way to commit suicide and for this reason I have decided extradition would be oppressive by reason of mental harm and I order his discharge.”

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange"s partner, Stella Moris, raises her fist as she speaks to the media outside the Old Bailey, London, following the ruling that he cannot be extradited to the United States. Assange, 49, was facing an 18-count indictment, alleging a plot to hack computers and a conspiracy to obtain and disclose national defence information.
image captionMr Assange’s partner, lawyer Stella Moris, said “today’s victory is a first step towards justice”

Mr Assange, who wore a blue suit and green face mask in the dock, closed his eyes as the judge read out her ruling on Monday.

His fiancee Stella Moris, with whom he has two young sons, wept and was comforted by Wikileaks editor-in-chief Kristinn Hrafnsson, who sat next to her in court.

Speaking outside court after the ruling, she called on the US president to “end this now”.

“Mr President, tear down these prison walls,” she said. “Let our little boys have their father. Free Julian, free the press, free us all.”

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