UK judge rejects US extradition request for WikiLeaks founder Assange

DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP

A British judge ruled on Monday that WikiLeaks' founder Julian Assange should not be extradited to the United States to face charges of breaking a spying law and conspiring to obtain secret US documents by hacking government computers.

US authorities accuse Australian-born Assange of 18 counts relating to Wikileaks’ release of vast troves of confidential US military records and diplomatic cables which they said had put lives in danger.

His lawyers had argued the entire prosecution was politically-motivated, powered by US President Donald Trump and that his extradition posed a severe threat to the work of journalists.

At a hearing at London's Old Bailey, Judge Vanessa Baraitser rejected nearly all his legal team's arguments but said she could not extradite him as there was a real risk he would commit suicide and ordered his discharge.

"Faced with conditions of near total isolation... I am satisfied that the procedures (outlined by US authorities) will not prevent Mr. Assange from finding a way to commit suicide," she said.

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