Supporters of Julian Assange celebrated outside London’s Old Bailey on Monday (January 4) after a judge denied a request to extradite him to the United States to face charges including espionage.
The United States has accused Assange, who has been in jail in Britain since 2019, of 18 offences relating to the release of vast troves of confidential U.S. military records by Wikileaks, and formally requested to extradite him in June of last year.
While Judge Vanessa Baraitser rejected submissions that extradition should be barred because it would breach Assange’s freedom of speech, she said there was a real risk he would commit suicide if he were held in a U.S. maximum security jail.
U.S. prosecutors are set to appeal Monday’s decision to London’s High Court, and ultimately the case could go to the UK Supreme Court. Assange’s lawyers will seek bail on Wednesday for their client, who has spent most of the last decade either in prison or self-imposed confinement.
His legal team had argued the entire prosecution was politically motivated, powered by U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration, and that Assange’s extradition would pose a severe threat to the work of journalists.