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