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WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange cannot be extradited to the United States, rules UK court

Assange will avoid facing espionage charges in the U.S.

Updated: January 4, 2021 - 2:45pm

Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, will not be legally extradited to the United States to face espionage charges, ruled a British court on Monday. The British judge said that she finds Assange's current mental state to be so fragile that she believes extradition would run the risk of prompting suicide.

"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," said District Judge Vanessa Baraitser.

Attorneys for the United States government have already announced they will appeal the decision. In the United States, Assange, 49, could face a maximum sentence of 175 years in prison, should he be convicted on 17 counts of espionage and one count of computer misuse.

The judge described Assange as a "depressed and sometimes despairing man" who possesses the "intellect and determination" to circumvent and suicide prevention measures put in place by American authorities.  

Assange's lawyers say they plan to ask for their client's release from the London prison where he has been held for more than 18-months at a bail hearing on Wednesday.

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