UK District Judge Vanessa Baraitser has ruled to reject the US request to extradite WikiLeaks founder and whistleblower Julian Assange. Baraitser indicated that extradition would have a harmful effect on Assange’s mental health and said she ruled against the US request due to fears that the whistleblower has a high risk of committing suicide as a result.
“I rule it would be unjust to extradite Mr. Assange”, the judge stated.
In the course of extradition hearings, several witnesses indicated that Assange’s prison conditions put him at high risk for depression and suicide, and that these issues would likely worsen should the whistleblower be extradited to the US.
Psychiatrist Michael Kopelman, who also testified in court, claimed that a razor blade was found hidden in Assange’s cell, adding that his patient engaged in thinking about ways of ending his own life.
US Attempts to Prosecute Assange
Assange is wanted in the US on charges of conspiring with Chelsea Manning to commit computer intrusion into the Department of Defence network to steal classified documents, namely Afghan and Iraq war logs and secret Department of State cables.
He is also facing a total of 17 charges under the US Espionage Act of 1917 in connection with his release of the logs and cables. Assange faces a sentence of up to 175 years in prison if found guilty on all counts.