LONDON—A British judge turned down a U.S. request to extradite
Julian Assange
on spying costs, stating the WikiLeaks founder would be at intense threat of suicide if sent to the U.S. to await demo in a superior-protection prison.

The selection marks a major setback in Washington’s pursuit of Mr. Assange for publishing solution documents relating to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. A attorney for the U.S. authorities stated it would attraction, location the phase for yet another listening to in the coming months at the Substantial Courtroom in London. A bail software is scheduled to be read Wednesday.

Providing her ruling Monday right after months of sporadic hearings due to the fact of the coronavirus pandemic, District Decide
Vanessa Baraitser
stated Mr. Assange has now toyed with suicide, and the prospect of detention in isolation in the U.S. would probable final result in a suicide try.

The judge stated the harsh disorders underneath which he would probable be held in the U.S. prison method would exacerbate that threat. The court docket read proof from medical professionals who diagnosed Mr. Assange with despair and autism.

Below British extradition legislation, as effectively as European human-legal rights legislation that the U.K. is celebration to, a judge can block extradition on wellness grounds if it would final result in unjust or oppressive remedy.

Stella Morris, spouse of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, arrived at court docket in London for Monday’s ruling on his extradition listening to.


daniel leal-olivas/Agence France-Presse/Getty Visuals

“I locate that the mental affliction of Mr. Assange is such that it would be oppressive to extradite him” to the U.S., Decide Baraitser stated in a 132-web page ruling. “The overall effect is of a depressed and sometimes despairing male who is truly fearful about his future,” she stated, rejecting the U.S. extradition request.

The judge did, nonetheless, dismiss numerous other arguments in opposition to extradition, such as the defense’s assertion that Mr. Assange’s prosecution was politically determined and violated his legal rights to no cost expression.

A spokesman for the U.S. Section of Justice stated that although it was upset in the court’s selection, the U.S. experienced prevailed on every single point of legislation raised. “We will keep on to search for Mr. Assange’s extradition to the United States,” he stated.

Mr. Assange, a 49-calendar year-old Australian who appeared in court docket in person Monday, is wanted in the U.S. on 18 costs of breaking espionage rules and conspiring to hack a armed service personal computer. The alleged offenses relate to the publication in 2010 and 2011 by WikiLeaks of a enormous trove of classified substance that painted a bleak picture of the American strategies in Iraq and Afghanistan and their aftermath.

Mr. Assange has frequently defended his function and the broader WikiLeaks venture as public-curiosity journalism that uncovered wrongdoing by the U.S. and other governments. The superior-profile case has ignited discussion around the scope of press flexibility in the internet age, and sparked problem that traditional media retailers and reporters could likewise be pursued for publishing authorities secrets.

On Monday, Mexico’s President
Andrés Manuel López Obrador
stated he would question the U.K. authorities about the possibility of releasing Mr. Assange, and that Mexico would provide him asylum.

“Therefore, a pardon for Mr. Assange, pardon and asylum,” he stated.

Mr. López Obrador stated Mexico was happy that the British court docket experienced denied the U.S. extradition request, which he known as a “triumph for justice.” He stated Mr. Assange is a journalist.

Mr. López Obrador’s provide is probable to additional strain relations in between Mexico and U.S. protection and intelligence companies, even if Mr. Assange doesn’t stop up in the place, stated
Antonio Ocaranza,
a political guide in Mexico City.

Relations with the U.S. had been taxed in December when Mr. López Obrador pushed by Congress new rules that impose stringent disorders on how foreign brokers could run in Mexico.

“Not only are we limiting U.S. brokers, but we are presenting to get in the enemies of the U.S. intelligence companies,” stated Mr. Ocaranza.

Mr. Assange’s case isn’t the first celebration wherever a British judge has blocked extradition on the grounds that facets of the U.S. prison method would qualify as unjust or oppressive remedy for somebody who is sick. London’s Substantial Courtroom turned down the extradition to the U.S. of
Lauri Like,
an alleged personal computer hacker, on similar grounds in 2018.

Nick Vamos,
a spouse at London legislation organization Peters & Peters and a previous head of extradition for England and Wales’s Crown Prosecution Company, stated it was an argument defense groups commonly deploy when resisting extradition to the U.S.

“If you are in perfect wellness, you are by no means going to get that argument. But if you have, as Assange does, these underlying, severe mental-wellness problems, then it’s going to be a issue usually with the People,” he stated.

The U.S. alleges that Mr. Assange broke the legislation by soliciting classified substance from previous U.S. Army intelligence analyst
Chelsea Manning
and by assisting her crack a password to receive that substance. Publication of the diplomatic cables and armed service logs she provided endangered the lives of U.S. intelligence sources, the U.S. authorities alleges.

“A remarkable total of means have gone into this case. There are individuals who have worked tirelessly around the decades to see that this investigation moved to its completion, that costs had been submitted and his extradition was sought,” stated
Zachary Terwilliger,
the U.S. legal professional for the Japanese District of Virginia, wherever Mr. Assange was indicted. President-elect
Joe Biden’s
transition crew was staying briefed on the case, and “there will be a large amount of choices for that group,” stated Mr. Terwilliger, who is departing in coming times, as the Trump administration finishes, and probable coming into non-public follow.

In June, the Justice Section issued a new indictment that provided new allegations that broadened the scope, the section stated, of the conspiracy surrounding alleged personal computer intrusions with which Mr. Assange has been charged. He is alleged in between 2007 and 2015 to have encouraged and assisted hackers affiliated with the teams Anonymous and LulzSec to receive classified details revealed by WikiLeaks, and to have played a role in assisting
Edward Snowden,
a National Security Agency contractor who in 2013 leaked specifics of clandestine surveillance applications to the media, to evade arrest.

Persons celebrated outside the house a London court docket on Monday right after a judge there ruled that Mr. Assange shouldn’t be extradited to the U.S.


henry nicholls/Reuters

In hearings at a London court docket unfold around virtually a calendar year, Mr. Assange denied that he solicited anything from Ms. Manning or assisted her steal classified documents. His defense argues that his prosecution is politically determined, a likely bar to extradition underneath a bilateral treaty in between the U.S. and U.K. that governs extradition requests.

His attorneys also argued that Mr. Assange wouldn’t get a reasonable demo if extradited and that extradition would undermine his suitable to no cost expression.

Decide Baraitser turned down all those arguments Monday, stating Mr. Assange’s alleged conduct “took him outside the house the role of investigative journalism.” She stated there was inadequate proof to counsel his prosecution was politically determined, and minor reason to consider he wouldn’t obtain a reasonable demo in the U.S. An American court docket would be able to take into consideration whether or not Mr. Assange’s legal rights to no cost speech underneath the First Amendment had been underneath threat, she stated.

Nevertheless, in her ruling, the judge stated she was persuaded that Mr. Assange would probable be held in a U.S. prison underneath the “special administrative measures” regime normally utilized in countrywide protection-linked cases. The court docket read proof that inmates matter to the regime are isolated from other prisoners with only restricted get hold of with the outside the house planet.

“All of the professional psychiatric witnesses agreed this would have a deleterious effect on Mr. Assange’s mental wellness,” the judge stated. The court docket read that Mr. Assange has experienced suicidal views although in custody in the U.K. He experienced produced ideas for his loss of life, such as crafting a will, and sought absolution from a priest, the court docket read.

An attraction, if granted, would be read in London’s Substantial Courtroom probably within just a several months, stated Mr. Vamos. A additional attraction to the U.K. Supreme Courtroom is also attainable on a point of legislation, this means it may well be six to 12 months before a remaining selection on Mr. Assange’s fate is produced.

Create to Jason Douglas at [email protected]

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