Breaking: Judge rules that Julian Assange should not be extradited to the US

Julian Assange
John McEvoy

Judge Vanessa Baraitser has ruled that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange should not be extradited to the US. The judgment on whether to extradite Assange was handed down on the morning of 4 January 2021.

Baraitser rejected the extradition request based on Assange’s risk of suicide, and conditions in the US prison system.

Baraitser’s decision follows a week of extradition proceedings at Woolwich Crown Court in February 2020, followed by an additional four weeks of proceedings at the Old Bailey in September.

Espionage Act

Assange, who revealed extensive evidence of war crimes and human rights abuses, is accused of violating the US Espionage Act on 17 counts and of one count of conspiracy to commit a computer crime. The charges amount to a possible total of 175 years in prison.

In the words of journalist Kevin Gosztola, the charges against Assange “criminalize the act of merely receiving classified information, as well as the publication of state secrets of the US government, which is why the case is widely viewed as an attack on press freedom”.

During the proceedings, Baraitser heard that Assange should not be extradited due to the political nature of the prosecution; the damaging precedent that would be set; the risk of cruel and inhuman treatment in a US supermax prison; the prosecution’s misinterpretation of facts; and concerns over Assange’s health.

Appeal

The US Department of Justice will now appeal the decision, which could drag out the legal process for many years to come.

It is not yet clear whether Assange will remain in Belmarsh prison, which has already experienced an outbreak of Covid-19 (coronavirus) until the appeals process is exhausted.

Read this Twitter thread from the author for more information on what happened today.

Featured image via screengrab/60 Minutes Australia

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  • Show Comments
      1. “It’s a shame that the judgement did not say that journalism is not a crime.”

        None of the lawfare used against Assange has been in good faith. It’s all been a pretext for the assertion of raw state power in service of state censorship and propaganda. As my criminal-procedure prof used to say, “the punishment is the process,” and the legal system has already “processed” Assange almost to death, without a single decision on the merits. No one in the US, Swedish, British, or Ecuadorian governments who has played a part in his persecution should ever be forgiven … and ditto for the persecutors’ apologists in the mainstream media.

    1. This evil lot exists in England as well, as it’s apparant in the ruling the reasons for his containment involving jouranlism was never brought up. So its doubtful they will release Julain Assange until the US is finshed torturing him in England most likely until he’s dead. So the ruling doesn’t amount to much I’d say unless he’s released , and finds a country he is safe to live in which won’t be England.

    2. I share the regret of others that the reasons for denying the request for extradition mention only his health and wellbeing, not the attack on journalistic freedom nor the trumped up (no pun intended) charges against him. It’s better than agreeing the extradition but one wonders where we go from here.

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