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UK judge rejects U.S. extradition request for WikiLeaks founder Assange | amNewYork

UK judge rejects U.S. extradition request for WikiLeaks founder Assange

A man rides a skateboard holding a banner with an image of Julian Assange in London, Britain, December 30, 2020.
REUTERS/Hannah McKay/File Photo

By Reuters

A British judge ruled on Monday that WikiLeaks’ founder Julian Assange should not be extradited to the United States to face charges of breaking a spying law and conspiring to obtain secret U.S. documents by hacking government computers.

U.S. authorities accuse Australian-born Assange, 49, of 18 counts relating to Wikileaks’ release of vast troves of confidential U.S. military records and diplomatic cables which they said had put lives in danger.

His lawyers had argued the entire prosecution was politically-motivated, powered by U.S. President Donald Trump and that his extradition posed a severe threat to the work of journalists.

At a hearing at London’s Old Bailey, Judge Vanessa Baraitser rejected nearly all his legal team’s arguments but said she could not extradite him as there was a real risk he would commit suicide and ordered his discharge.

“Faced with conditions of near total isolation … I am satisfied that the procedures (outline by U.S. authorities) will not prevent Mr. Assange from finding a way to commit suicide,” she said.

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