UK Court rejects Julian Assange's extradition to the US It was not evident that the US, known for harsh conditions of its prison, would be able to ensure his safety while awaiting trial, the London court said The District Judge Vanessa Baraitser of the London's Old Bailey Court ruled that the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange's extradition to the United States to face criminal...
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UK Court rejects Julian Assange's extradition to the US
It was not evident that the US, known for harsh conditions of its prison, would be able to ensure his safety while awaiting trial, the London court said
The District Judge Vanessa Baraitser of the London's Old Bailey Court ruled that the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange's extradition to the United States to face criminal charges including breaking a spying law should be blocked. However, the United States said that it would continue to seek extradition of the Australian-born Assange and US prosecutors are set to appeal Monday's decision in London's High Court.
It is practically 10 years old case and numerous dramatic events have taken place in the lead on introduction to the extradition case hearing verdict. In June 2019, the US sought extradition of Assange on spying charges. The London court started to hear his extradition case in February 2020 and on 1 October set 4 January 2021 as the verdict date.
The extradition case in the UK Court against 49-year-old Australia-born Wikileaks-founder Julian Assange relates to WikiLeaks's publication of leaked documents about the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, as well as diplomatic cables, in 2010 and 2011.
The United States treats Assange's alleged offence as a spying activity and have counted 18 offences against him relating to the release of vast troves of confidential US military records and diplomatic cables which prosecutors said had put lives in danger.
Assange's legal team argued that the US efforts to extradite him was carried out under pressure from the U.S. President's Administration and that his extradition would pose a serious threat to 'freedom of press.'
Assange's claimed that he had been exercising free speech rights when he dumped thousands of leaked classified US military and diplomatic files onto the internet in 2010 and that the US was pursuing a political vendetta because of it.
The judge noted it was not evident that the United States, keeping him jailed while awaiting trial, would be able to ensure his safety in prisons known for "harsh conditions."
"I find that Mr Assange's risk of committing suicide, if an extradition order were to be made, to be substantial," Baraitser said in her ruling at London's Old Bailey court.
Baraitser further rejected the arguments that the case was political and an assault on freedom of speech, stating that there was insufficient evidence that prosecutors had been pressured by US Government and little evidence of hostility from the US President. She said there was no evidence that Assange would not get a fair trial in the United States and that his actions had gone beyond investigative journalism.
US Justice Department in its statement stated, "We will continue to seek Mr Assange's extradition," adding that the United States had won on all the legal points, including arguments relating to freedom of speech and political motivation.