A London court refused to extradite Assange out of concern for his mental health. The court will decide today on an application to release the WikiLeaks founder on bail.
After the British judiciary refused to extradite Julian Assange to the USA, the same court is now deciding on the release of the WikiLeaks founder. The 49-year-old’s lawyers had previously requested that the native Australian be released on bail.
On Monday, the court rejected the US request for extradition on humanitarian grounds, but, to the incomprehension of Assange’s supporters, did not classify the case as politically motivated. Rather, the court based the decision on Assange’s mental health and the conditions of detention that would await him in the United States. It is to be expected that he will commit suicide in solitary confinement. An appeal can still be lodged against the judgment – as well as against the decision for or against a release.
“Reporters Without Borders” hopes to be released
“Reporters Without Borders” does not expect the US judiciary to have much chance of success. “It is very unlikely that a US appointment will be successful,” said London representative Rebecca Vincent. “I don’t see what new arguments the lawyers could bring up in court.” She hopes US President-elect Joe Biden will be able to settle Assange’s prosecution when he takes office. The US reacted with annoyance to the rejection of its extradition request and announced that it would continue its efforts to extradite Assange.
The UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Nils Melzer, warned of a precedent “denying investigative journalists the protection of the freedom of the press and paving the way for their prosecution on charges of espionage”. Monday’s verdict is dangerous. It is only a question of whether Assange is fit enough to endure the prison conditions in the USA, said Melzer according to a statement.
The US judiciary accuses Assange of stealing and publishing secret material from US military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan together with whistleblower Chelsea Manning – then Bradley Manning. He put the lives of US informants in danger. His supporters, however, consider him an investigative journalist who has brought war crimes to light.