Saturday, March 6

Julian Assange will seek release from prison following extradition ruling | Julian Assange


Julian Assange will make a new appeal to be released from prison this week after a British judge ruled that he cannot be extradited to the United States to face charges of spying and government hacking.

While District Judge Vanessa Baraitser rejected arguments that Assange would not get a fair trial in the US, she blocked extradition on the grounds that the WikiLeaks co-founder risked taking his own life if kept in isolation. .

She said it seemed impossible to prevent suicide when a prisoner was determined to carry it out, twice referencing Jeffrey Epstein, the American billionaire who took his own life in August 2019 at the New York Metropolitan Correctional Facility ahead of trial. for sex trafficking. and conspiracy charges.

As US authorities prepare to appeal the ruling, Assange will appear in court on Wednesday to request new bail.

His legal team is expected to present evidence to show that Assange will not escape and will also refer to the Covid-19 rates at the Belmarsh high-security prison, where he is being held, as well as the conditions said to be harmful for your physique. and mental health.

Citing evidence from medical experts about Assange’s poor mental health, Baraitser said Monday: “The overall impression is that of a depressed and sometimes desperate man who really fears for his future. I believe that Mr. Assange’s mental condition is such that it would be oppressive to extradite him to the United States of America. “

There was consternation among Assange supporters that the ruling was based solely on health concerns, and the judge stated that he had no reason to doubt that “the usual constitutional and procedural protections” would be granted to Assange in the United States.

Sending Assange across the Atlantic would not violate an extradition ban for “political crimes,” Baraitser said.

The case against the 49-year-old man relates to WikiLeaks’ publication of hundreds of thousands of leaked documents about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as diplomatic cables, in 2010 and 2011.

Prosecutors say Assange helped US defense analyst Chelsea Manning violate the US Espionage Act, was complicit in computer hacking by others and published classified information that put informants in danger.

Assange denies conspiring with Manning to crack an encrypted password on American computers and says there is no evidence that anyone’s security has been compromised. His lawyers argue that the indictment is politically motivated and that he is being pursued because WikiLeaks published US government documents that revealed evidence of war crimes and human rights abuses.

Assange’s partner, Stella Moris, described the ruling as “the first step toward justice” and called on Donald Trump to halt extradition efforts. “[The US government] he still wants to punish Julian and make him disappear into the deepest and darkest hole in the United States prison system, ”he said.

There were also mixed reactions from organizations such as Amnesty International, which welcome the ruling, while accusing the UK authorities of “having been involved in a politically motivated process at the behest of the United States and having put the freedom of the media and freedom of expression on trial.”

The US Department of Justice said: “While we are extremely disappointed with the court’s final decision, we are pleased that the United States prevailed on all points of law raised. In particular, the court rejected all of Assange’s arguments on politically motivated, political crime, fair trial and freedom of expression. We will continue to seek the extradition of Assange to the United States. “



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www.theguardian.com

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