Posted on 01.05.2021 by Chandana Sirimalwatte in World with 0 Comments
District Judge Vanessa Baraitser, at the London court hearing of Julian Assange case, has ruled that Julian Assange should not be extradited to the United States to face espionage charges, saying that such a move would be “oppressive” because of the WikiLeaks founder’s mental health.
The judge blocked the request because of concerns over Assange’s mental health and risk of suicide in the US.
Assange, who is wanted over the publication of thousands of classified documents in 2010 and 2011, says the case is politically motivated. US government has pursued Assange on 17 counts under the Espionage Act and one count under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.
Expressing disappointment at the ruling, the US justice department noted that its legal arguments had prevailed. US government has indicated that it intends to appeal the extradition decision.
Meanwhile, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) announced that they are extremely disappointed that the court failed to take a stand for press freedom and journalistic protections. UK based news agencies reporting a media statement by RSF quoted, “We disagree with the judge’s assessment that the case was not politically motivated and was not centered on journalism and free speech. This decision leaves the door open for further similar prosecutions and will have a chilling effect on national security reporting around the world if the root issues are not addressed.”
Assange remains detained on remand in high-security Belmarsh prison, pending the judge’s consideration of his bail application tomorrow.
Today, responding to the questions by journalists, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has stated that Julian Assange is “free to return home” to Australia if a US extradition bid fails in the British courts.
Australian legislators have already urged Washington to drop its espionage case against the WikiLeaks founder.