(The AEGIS Alliance) – LONDON, ENGLAND – Just this week on Monday, a British judge has decided to deny the request to extradite WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to the United States to face espionage charges. The reason that the extradition request was denied was that they say he is likely to face harsh prison conditions, and might even kill himself if placed under those conditions.
Julian Assange is already in a weak condition and they fear that his mental state would further decline if forced into that U.S. extradition. Authorities fear that his mental state would deteriorate much more rapidly. But despite the denial of that request to have Assange sent to the United States to face those charges, the U.S. has said they will appeal the decision. Assange’s legal team is going to be seeking his release from a prison located in London that he has been held at for several months now.
“I find that the mental condition of Mr. Assange is such that it would be oppressive to extradite him to the United States of America,” the judge said.
The decision to deny that request is being referred to as a step toward justice for Assange and his supporters. There is a great fear that something might happen to him, or his condition to worsen if he were to be turned over to U.S. authorities. This isn’t the end of the legal troubles that Assange might face but it is a small victory for now that they have decided to deny that request from the United States to extradite Assange to face those espionage charges that they have placed against him.
Assange, who sat quietly in the dock at London’s Central Criminal Court for the ruling, wiped his brow as the decision was announced. His partner Stella Moris, with whom he has two young sons, wept.
Outside court, Moris said the ruling was “the first step towards justice,” but it was not yet time to celebrate.“I had hoped that today would be the day that Julian would come home,” she said. “Today is not that day, but that day will come soon,” Moris said.
“This is a huge relief to anyone who cares about the rights of journalists,” The Freedom of the Press Foundation tweeted.
There might not be much time left for U.S. President Donald Trump in office but there is also the hope that he might offer a pardon to Assange for those charges before he leaves office. Assange has supporters all over the world, and many in the U.S., who don’t believe he should have been charged as he has with the espionage charges when they argue he was just doing his job as a journalist is trying to inform the public about the truth. Lawyers for Assange have argued the same, that he had been persecuted for speaking the truth and daring to publish the truth to the world.
“Mr. President, tear down these prison walls,” Moris said. “Let our little boys have their father.”
Assange’s American lawyers say that because he was acting as a journalist and should have freedom of speech which is protected under the Constitution, that he shouldn’t be held responsible for those espionage charges that they say he is guilty of when it comes to the information that was shared online with the world.
“We hope that after consideration of the U.K. court’s ruling, the United States will decide not to pursue the case further,” Assange attorney Barry Pollack said.
His defense has also argued that Assange faces the risk of ending up behind bars with a disproportionate sentence, one that has been described as draconian, and there is concern that he would suffer through severe inhumane conditions if he were to be sent to the U.S. and placed behind bars for years. This is why there is such a strong effort to support the refusal of that extradition to U.S. authorities and why Assange has spent a great deal of time and resources in attempting to seek refuge from other countries while the U.S. has been seeking to have him extradited.
The prosecution that has taken place so far involving Assange is a story that has captured the attention of millions around the world. This is one that is described as an attack on free speech and journalism, that has been condemned by human rights groups, civil liberties groups, journalists, and others. There is a broad notion that this attack on Assange is essentially an attack to undermine free speech around the world and that is why he has drawn so many supporters.
The legal troubles began many years ago, back in 2010 when he had been arrested in London over the request from Sweden. He landed in the Ecuadorian Embassy and stayed there for years until he was evicted in 2019 and the British police had immediately sought to arrest him for breaching his bail many years earlier, back in 2012.
Through the extradition hearing, Assange has been held at the Belmarsh Prison in London. Though there is concern that Assange wouldn’t get a fair trial if forced to be extradited to the U.S. and face espionage charges there, the British judge who recently ruled indicated that this would be unlikely, urging that the U.S. judicial system would give a fair trial to Assange if that is where he ended up. But despite the claims that this might be the case, there are many who simply hope it never gets that far.
“I accept that oppression as a bar to extradition requires a high threshold. … However, I am satisfied that, in these harsh conditions, Mr. Assange’s mental health would deteriorate causing him to commit suicide with the ‘single-minded determination’ of his autism spectrum disorder,” the judge said in her ruling.
Kyle James Lee – The AEGIS Alliance – This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.