A British judge has rejected a US request to extradite WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to America, ruling that such a move would be “oppressive” by reason of his mental health.
The 49-year-old Australian has been charged in the US under the Espionage Act for his role in publishing classified military and diplomatic cables.“I have decided that extradition would be oppressive and I order his discharge,” judge Vanessa Baraitser said in her ruling Monday.
Read more on CNN. The full ruling is embedded below, but it’s 132 pages, and you may prefer to download it from the court, here.
This is not the first time the U.K. has refused to extradite someone because of impact on mental health. We saw this in 2012 with Gary McKinnon, and we saw it in 2018 with Lauri Love. Both of those UK citizens were diagnosed on the autism spectrum and their supporters argued that without their families and appropriate mental health support, they were at risk of significant depression and suicide. Assange’s situation is similar, as he was diagnosed on the autism spectrum decades ago. The charges against Assange, however, are much more complex and serious than those against McKinnon and Love, who were charged with hacking. Assange is facing charges of espionage and if convicted, would likely face life in prison or at least a very long term.
The U.S. has indicated it will appeal the UK court’s ruling.