Julian Assange’s extradition to the US rejected by UK court
LONDON: The world’s most famous whistleblower, Julian Assange, will not be extradited to the US, a UK court has ruled.
Vanessa Baraitser, who serves as a District Judge in the UK rejected the extradition request made by the US government for Wikileaks founder, Assange to face espionage charges in the US, saying that such an action would be oppressive and that it was possible that Assange would commit suicide in US custody.
Sources from the US prosecution team confirmed that they would appeal the decision which they are entitled to do so in the next 14 days.
Previously, the US prosecutors had indicted Jullian Assange on 17 counts of espionage and a single count of misuse of computers which includes leaking sensitive defence and diplomatic information on Wikileaks.
Assange’s lawyer, Ed Fitzgerlad argued that as a journalist, he was entitled to freedom of speech protections under the First Amendment of the US.
The leaked material includes evidence of US military excesses in Iraq and Afghanistan, including cold blooded murder of civilians in some cases.
However, the UK court did not entertain the free speech guarantees saying that Assange’s “conduct, if proved, would therefore amount to offences in this jurisdiction that would not be protected by his right to freedom of speech”.
On the other hand, the court noted that Assange was suffering from severe clinical depression which would increase if Assange was shifted to the US.
According to the judge, “Assange has the intellect and determination” to overcome any suicide prevention measures taken by the US authorities.
Assange legal troubles in the UK began in 2010, when Sweden launched an extradition case in regards to sexual assault allegations, but the case was later dropped.
In 2012, Assange moved to the Ecuadorian embassy which had granted him temporary respite, however, due to complaints regarding his behaviour, including allegations of lacking personal hygiene, Assange was kicked out of the embassy in April 2019.
After the verdict, Assange will be taken to Belmarsh prison, and a bail application would be made this week.
Assange’s counsel, Ed Fitzgerald confirmed to the court that he will provide evidence reflecting the fact that his client would not abscond from justice.