Wikileaks founder Julian Assange remains in custody

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Julian Assange cannot be released on bail. On Monday the court in London ruled that the Wikileaks founder may not be extradited to the USA for the time being.

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange remains in custody in the UK. A court in London on Wednesday denied the defense’s motion to release the 49-year-old on bail. On Monday, the same judge rejected a US extradition request against Assange.

Vanessa Baraitser had based her first decision on Assange’s mental health and the conditions of detention that would await him in the United States. It is to be expected that he will commit suicide in solitary confinement. Now she said Assange could be treated well in the maximum security Belmarsh Prison. There is also the risk that Assange will try to escape, as in the past.

Assange has an appeal

Assange had evaded law enforcement at the Ecuadorian embassy in London for nearly seven years. An appeal can still be lodged against the judgment – as well as against the new decision.

The US judiciary accuses Assange of stealing and publishing secret material from US military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan together with whistleblower Chelsea Manning. He put the lives of US informants in danger. His supporters, on the other hand, consider him an investigative journalist who has brought war crimes to light.

“It is very unlikely that a US appeal will succeed”

The journalists’ organization Reporters Without Borders no longer sees great chances of success for the US judiciary. “It is very unlikely that a US appointment will be successful,” said the organization’s London representative, Rebecca Vincent, of the German press agency. “I don’t see what new arguments the lawyers could bring up in court.” She hopes that when he takes office, President-elect Joe Biden can settle Assange’s prosecution. Biden is slated to be sworn in on January 20th in the US, ending Donald Trump’s era.

The UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Nils Melzer, warned of a precedent “which denies investigative journalists the protection of the freedom of the press and paves the way for their prosecution on charges of espionage”. Monday’s verdict is dangerous. It is only a question of whether Assange is fit enough to endure the prison conditions in the USA, said Melzer according to a statement.

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