17 de enero de 2021
English - News

UK judge blocks WikiLeaks founder Assange's extradition to US

London, Jan 4 (efe-epa).- A British court on Monday rejected a request by the United States to extradite the founder of whistleblowing website WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, on the grounds that it would be detrimental to his mental health and that he would be a suicide risk.

Assange, an Australian citizen, is accused by the US of espionage over the publication of thousands of classified documents in 2010 and 2011.

In issuing her ruling at the Old Bailey, London’s criminal court, Judge Vanessa Baraitser said: “The overall impression is of a depressed and sometimes despairing man fearful for his future.”

“Faced with the conditions of near total isolation without the protective factors which limited his risk at HMP Belmarsh, I am satisfied the procedures described by the US will not prevent Mr Assange from finding a way to commit suicide.”

“For this reason I have decided extradition would be oppressive by reason of mental harm and I order his discharge,” she concluded.

The British Attorney General's Office, representing the US justice system, has already indicated that it will appeal the ruling, meaning the trial judge will soon have to decide whether to keep Assange in custody for the duration of the new legal process or to release him.

The session was in recess while the defense spoke with the defendant, who was present in the courtroom dressed in a dark suit and wearing a mask.

The judge denied Assange’s extradition on health grounds after previously rejecting arguments presented by the defense to justify their refusal to give up the case.

Baraitser dismissed a claim by Assange's lawyers that the charges against him were "politically motivated" and that he would not get a fair trial in that country.

The US wants to prosecute Assange for 17 offenses under its espionage law and one under the computer fraud and abuse law, over for the release in 2010 and 2011 of military records and other confidential documents provided by former US army analyst Chelsea Manning.

The revelations on the WikiLeaks website exposed alleged US war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan, files on the extra-judicial detentions at Guantanamo Bay prison (on the island of Cuba) and diplomatic cables revealing human rights abuses around the world. EFE-EPA


Contenido relacionado

Mexican president offers political asylum to Julian Assange

Mexico City, Jan 4 (efe-epa).- Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on Monday offered political asylum to the founder of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, after a British court rejected extraditing him to the United States to face trial.

"I'm going to ask the Foreign Relations Secretary to undertake the appropriate procedures to ask the government of the United Kingdom about the possibility that Mr. Assange might remain free and for Mexico to offer him political asylum," the president said at his morning press conference.

Lopez Obrador's statement comes a few hours after a British court denied the US request for Assange's extradition. The WikiLeaks founder, an Australian citizen, stands accused in the US of alleged espionage over the publication of thousands of classified documents in 2010 and 2011. He could face up to 175 years in prison if convicted on all 18 charges.

The British Attorney General's Office, representing the US justice system, has already indicated that it will appeal the ruling, meaning the trial judge - Vanessa Baraitser - will soon have to decide whether to keep Assange in custody for the duration of the new legal process or to release him.

Baraitser denied the request for Assange's extradition on the grounds that the 49-year-old is in delicate mental health and is a suicide risk.

"I hail the fact that in England Mr. Assange has been given protection, that the extradition to the United States has not been authorized. I think that it's a triumph of justice. I hail the fact that England is acting in this way because Assange is a journalist and deserves a chance," Lopez Obrador said.

In the past, the leftist leader had expressed approval of the leaks made by WikiLeaks regarding Mexico when he was an opposition leader to previous governments.

Thus, he reiterated on Monday that he is in favor of "pardon, reprieve and asylum" for Assange.

"Given what the right to asylum means and our tradition, which is one of protection, but at the same time (in keeping with) the responsibility to ensure that one who receives asylum does not intervene, does not interfere in political matters of any country, we would be in the position to offer this asylum," he said.

Judge Baraitser will decide on Wednesday whether or not to grant release on bail to the WikiLeaks founder, who has been held in a British prison since 2019.

The US wants to put Assange on trial on 17 counts of espionage and one of computer misuse linked to WikiLeaks' publication in 2010 and 2011 (although now that period has been expanded to 2007-2015) of military files and other confidential documents.

After spending more than a decade in British territory - and taking refuge in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London from 2012-2019 - Assange, who was in court to hear the judge's ruling, mopped his forehead when Baraitser handed down her decision, while his girlfriend and the mother of two of his children, Stella Morris, burst into tears.



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