A British judge has rejected the U.S. request to extradite Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, citing suicide risk.
Assange has been charged in the U.S. with 17 counts of espionage over a 2010 document dump on the Wikileaks site, which revealed classified American military and diplomatic documents.
District Judge Vanessa Baraitser ruled on Monday that Assange’s mental health prevented extradition to the U.S.
“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,” Baraister said. Assange is “a depressed and sometimes despairing man” with the “intellect and determination” to commit suicide despite preventative measures.
However, Baraister added that Assange’s actions “amount to offenses in this jurisdiction that would not be protected by his right to freedom of speech.”
British authorities arrested Assange in 2010 after rape charges were brought against him in Sweden, however he managed to delay extradition and in 2012 sought refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in London. In 2019 Ecuadorian authorities booted Assange from the embassy, after which he was arrested again.
Assange’s defenders have claimed he was acting as a journalist when publishing the classified documents.
“The effort by the United States to prosecute Julian Assange and seek his extradition was ill-advised from the start,” Brad Pollack, Assange’s lawyer, told reporters. “We hope that after consideration of the U.K. court’s ruling, the United States will decide not to pursue the case further.”
Stella Morris, Assange’s fiancee, has implored President Trump to pardon him before leaving office.