A UK court has ruled that Julian Assange should not be extradited to the United States. The founder of Wikileaks is wanted in the US on espionage charges.
Wikileaks founder Julian Assange was re-arrested by the British authorities in April 2019, after waiver of his immunity by the embassy of Ecuador where he was voluntarily imprisoned for seven years. He has since been remanded in custody pending trial in the United States with the charge of espionage.
The British court ruled today that Wikileaks founder Julian Assange should not be extradited to the United States to stand trial. Judge Vanessa Baraitser said that while Assange had outgrown the role of a journalist by releasing thousands of secret US letters, the risk to his mental and physical well-being was very high.
The United States has already pledged to appeal the ruling and the case is likely to go to the British Supreme Court, a process that could take several years.
Wikileaks was founded in 2006 but gained worldwide attention in 2010, following the publication of a series of documents on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The website continued to publish material leaked by the State Department regarding Guantanamo Bay and the National Democratic Commission. Critics of Assange in the United States believe he has received material from enemy forces, including Russia.
The 49-year-old Australian is wanted in the US on charges of espionage and conspiracy, having committed an electronic invasion after collaborating with former US Army analyst Chelsea Manning. In both the United Kingdom and the United States, Mr Assange's supporters believe that his work is journalistic and that publishing it would be a violation of press freedom.
In its decision, Baraitser rejected such allegations, saying that Assange had previously encouraged people to join the US intelligence community to leak sensitive information.