Wikileaks founder Julian Assange cannot be extradited to the United States, a court in London has ruled. The judge blocked the request because of concerns over Mr Assange’s mental health and risk of suicide in the US.
The 49-year-old is wanted over the publication of thousands of classified documents in 2010 and 2011. The US claims the leaks broke the law and endangered lives. Mr Assange has fought the extradition and says the case is politically motivated.
The US authorities have 14 days in which to lodge an appeal and are expected to do so. This means Mr Assange is not likely to be freed from London’s Belmarsh Prison – where he is being held – immediately.
District Judge Vanessa Baraitser ruled that while US prosecutors met the tests for Mr Assange to be extradited for trial, the US was incapable of preventing him from attempting to take his own life. She outlined evidence of his self-harm and suicidal thoughts and said: “The overall impression is of a depressed and sometimes despairing man fearful for his future.”
She said: “Faced with the conditions of near total isolation without the protective factors which limited his risk at HMP Belmarsh, I am satisfied the procedures described by the US will not prevent Mr Assange from finding a way to commit suicide and for this reason I have decided extradition would be oppressive by reason of mental harm and I order his discharge.”