- A British judge has ruled that Julian Assange should not be extradited to the United States.
- Citing mental health concerns, the judge believed Assange could commit suicide if extradited.
- According to the judge, the imposition of special administrative measures would risk further deterioration of Assange's mental health.
A British judge has ruled that Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks, should not be extradited to the United States.
“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,” District Judge Baraitser said in today’s judgement.
Citing oppression as a bar to extradition requires a high threshold, but according to Baraitser, that threshold has been met. “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,” Baraitser said.
The US government accused Assange of conspiring with Chelsea Manning—a former intelligence analyst in the US Army—in order to breach the US Espionage Act. Assange’s lawyers say the prosecution is a political response, engineered because Wikileaks exposed evidence of war crimes.
Former CIA employee Edward Snowden, who also leaked classified documents relating to national security in 2013, hopes this decision will mark an end to Assange’s case.
“Let this be the end of it,” he tweeted.
Let this be the end of it. https://t.co/d9GDima1PA
— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) January 4, 2021
Judge Baraitser rejected several arguments put forward by Assange’s legal team, judging that his activities with Manning “went beyond the mere encouragement of a journalist.” The judge said the impact of extradition on Assange’s family would be “nothing out of the ordinary in the context of extradition proceedings.”
However, Judge Baraitser remained weary of Assange’s imprisonment conditions should he be extradited.
Specifically, she was concerned Assange would be subject to special administrative measures (SAMs), which are imposed when it is believed an inmate could disclose information that would undermine national security. The consequence could mean limiting privileges like correspondence and visits.
“I am satisfied that, if he is subjected to the extreme conditions of SAMs, Mr. Assange’s mental health will deterioriate to the point where he will commit suicide,” Judge Baraitser added.
The US has already served notice of appeal against this decision, indicating that Assange’s story is not over yet.