AMERICA’S bid to extradite WikiLeaks founders Julian Assange has been rejected by a UK judge, who cited concerns about his mental health.
Judge Vanessa Baraitser told a London court on Monday she was “alarmed” by the effect incarceration in Britain has had on the 49-year-old’s health and feared it would only get worse while awaiting trial in the US, which could lead to self-harm.
“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,” she told the court.
ARTICLE CONTINUES AFTER THIS ADVERTISEMENT
The US Government has indicated it will appeal the decision and has 14 days to do so.
“We will continue to seek Mr Assange’s extradition to the United States,” a US Department of Justice statement said.
Assange is charged with violating the Espionage Act by conspiring with former US military intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to leak classified material relating to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in 2010.
Assange will not be immediately released from prison.
A decision on his bail conditions is expected to be made on Wednesday.