London court rejects Assange's extradition to US. The judge says there is a real risk WikiLeaks founder may commit suicide.

LONDON : A British judge ruled on Monday that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange should not be extradited to the United States to face criminal charges including breaking a spying law, saying his mental health problems meant he would be at risk of suicide.

The United States accuses. Australian-born Assange 49, of 18 offenses relating to the release by WikiLeaks of vast troves of confidential US military records and diplomatic cables which it says put lives in danger.

US prosecutors are set to appeal Monday's decision to London's High Court, and ultimately the case could go the UK Supreme Court. Assange's lawyers will seek bail on Wednesday for their client, who has spent most of the last decade either in prison or self-imposed confinement.

His legal team had argued the entire prosecution was politically motivated, powered by US President Donald Trump's administration, and that Assange's extradition would pose a severe threat to the work of journalists.

While Judge Vanessa Baraitser rejected submissions that extradition should be barred because it would breach press freedom or Assange's freedom of speech, she said there was a real risk he would commit suicide if he were held in a US maximum security prison.

Assange, she said, suffered at times from severe depression and had been diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome and autism. Half a razor blade was found in his London prison cell in May 2019, and he had told medical staff about his suicidal thoughts and made plans to end his life.

''I find that Mr. Assange's risk of committing suicide, if an extradition order were to be made, to be substantial,'' Barrister said in her ruling, delivered at London's Old Bailey court.

''The overall impression is of a depressed and sometimes despairing man, who is genuinely fearful about his future,'' she added, saying he made regular calls from jail to the Samaritans charity.

Wearing a navy suit and a mask, Assange showed little emotion at the ruling. Outside the court, his partner Stella Moris said the decision was a victory but the threat of extradition was still hanging over him.

''I call on the President of the United States to end this now : Mr. President, tear down these prison walls, let our little boys have their father. Free Julian free the press, free us all,'' she said.  [Reuters]


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