Julian Assange news – live: WikiLeaks founder’s US extradition to be decided in UK court

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange gestures from the window of a prison van as he is driven out of Southwark Crown Court in London on May 1, 2019. Whether he will be extradited to the US will be decided in a UK court on Monday, 4 January, 2020.

(AFP via Getty Images)

Assange, 49, faces a total of 17 charges of espionage and computer hacking in the US after he enflamed Washington by publishing documents revealing the grim realities of the so-called “war on terror”.  If extradited, the WikiLeaks founder could be sentenced to as many as 175 years in a high security jail. His fate is expected to be decided on Monday morning at London’s Central Criminal Court, known as the Old Bailey, in a verdict to be handed down by British district judge Vanessa Baraitser. 

If the judge approves the extradition, a final decision will be made by Home Secretary Priti Patel, with Assange’s lawyers already prepared to file an appeal should they lose.

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No extradition due to health and suicide risk

The judge has ruled against extraditing Julian Assange to the US due to the potential risks to his health and well-being. Chantal Da Silva4 January 2021 11:01

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No extradition due to health and suicide risk

The judge has ruled against extraditing Julian Assange to the US due to the potential risks to his health and well-being. Chantal Da Silva4 January 2021 11:01

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Assange is a ‘despairing man’, judge says

The judge says that despite a lighter spirit at times, her  “overall impression” of Assange is one of “a depressed and despairing man who is genuinely fearful about his future”.

She refers to an incident of self-harm in 1991 and says Assange has a family history of depression, with two male relatives who killed themselves. Chantal Da Silva4 January 2021 11:00

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Judge considers argument on Assange’s health

The judge is considering arguments around s91 Extradition Act 2003, which bars extradition if it is unjust or oppressive by reason of a person’s health. She says he has “recurrent depressive disorder which was severe in December 2019 and is sometimes accompanied by psychotic features”.

The judge says she accepts a psychologist’s opinion that “Mr Assange suffers from autism spectrum disorder, albeit high-functioning, and Asperger’s syndrome”. She says he remained depressed throughout detention at HMP Belmarsh, and is on a plan for prisoners at risk of suicide or self-harm. Medical notes record numerous occasions of Assange telling a prison psychologist and other medical staff that he has suicidal or self-harming thoughts, felt despairing or hopeless and had plans to end his life, the judge says.

In 2019 a razorblade was found in his cell. Lizzie Dearden4 January 2021 10:56

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Veteran reporter John Pilger’s warning on extradition ruling

Veteran reporter John Pilger has said that he believes if Julian Assange is extradited to the US,  “no journalist who challenges power will be safe”. The 81-year-old filmmaker and author of several books on investigative journalism, previously made the comments before a hearing at the Old Bailey on Assange’s case.

Read more on his comments here:  Chantal Da Silva4 January 2021 10:50

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‘No foundation’ for suggestion Chelsea Manning’s evidence was given as a result of torture, judge says

The judge says there is “no foundation” for the defence’s suggestions that Chelsea Manning’s evidence was given as a result of her being subjected to torture, or that she will refuse to testify for defence. She says challenges under the US constitution and process could be made in the US.

Lizzie Dearden4 January 2021 10:49

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‘No foundation’ for suggestion Chelsea Manning’s evidence was given as a result of torture, judge says

The judge says there is “no foundation” for the defence’s suggestions that Chelsea Manning’s evidence was given as a result of her being subjected to torture, or that she will refuse to testify for defence. She says challenges under the US constitution and process could be made in the US. Lizzie Dearden4 January 2021 10:49

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Defence argument that US jury pool would be comprised of government workers ‘untenable’

The judge calls the defence argument that a US jury pool would be comprised almost entirely of government employees or contractors “untenable”.

“The suggestion that 12 impartial individuals could not be empanelled is impossible to sustain”, she adds. Lizzie Dearden4 January 2021 10:47

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Impact of extradition on Assange’s family would be ‘nothing out of the ordinary’, judge says

The judge says the delay in Assange’s case did not obstruct him from having a proper defence, and that the “inevitable impact extradition would have on his partner on children is sadly nothing out of the ordinary” in such proceedings. She is dismissing more defence arguments.

Chantal Da Silva4 January 2021 10:45

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Extraditing Assange neither ‘unjust’ nor ‘oppressive’, judge says

The judge finds it is not “unjust or oppressive to extradite Mr Assange because of the passage of time”, despite him being fugitive from British justice since June 2012 and US justice since December 2017.

She said the nature of the material created “difficult problems for investigators”.

Lizzie Dearden4 January 2021 10:43

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