A judge in Britain has denied the extradition of Julian Assange to the United States, where he faces espionage charges for his job running WikiLeaks. The Guardian reported that the verdict was presented in criminal court this morning, with the Wall Street Journal reporting that the judge noted that the risk of suicide was too high.
Assange will now remain in British custody pending bail applications, and the US government is free to continue appealing the decision. This particular ruling relates only to US extradition requests under an extradition treaty between Britain and the US. Full verdict is available here.
Initially detained by Britain for violating the terms of his bail, Assange faces charges of hacking and espionage in the US in connection with a series of Wikileaks publications that the US Department of Justice has called “one of the largest compromises of classified information in the history of the United States.”
The case raises significant free speech concerns, as many legal scholars see the government case as punishment against the Wikileaks founder for publishing information. Extradition is also very well known, with several British protests supporting Assange and against extradition.
Italians and Germans were among those who showed their support for the 48-year-old before his extradition trial opened at Woolwich crown court on February 24. Assange’s father, John Shipton, addressed a crowd in Parliament Square. Protesters waved banners with slogans such as “Journalism is not a crime.”
Assange was reportedly being considered for a pardon by President Donald Trump, who benefited from the release of DNC Wikileaks during the 2016 campaign. However, Julian Assange was not included in the appeal in December, and it is unclear whether Trump plans to intervene in the case.