London’s Old Bailey court today ruled that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange would not be extradited to the US to face espionage charges. District Judge Vanessa Baraitser stated that extradition would be “oppressive” because of Assange’s mental health.
Baraitser also said that the whistleblower and journalist “faces the bleak prospect of severely restrictive detention conditions” and that she is satisfied the risk Assange “will commit suicide is a substantial one.”
The verdict follows a four-week extradition hearing that began on September 7, 2020, and heard statements from Noam Chomsky, Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, journalist Stefania Maurizi and torture victim Khaled el-Masri. Read our coverage of the trial here. The court will return on Wednesday, January 6 to discuss the next steps, including bail.
The verdict raises questions about the future of whistleblowing and press freedom, as Baraitser vindicated the political accusations against Assange. leaving the door open to more prosection and persecution for whistleblowers, journalists and publishers involved in exposing embarrassing truths.
Here’s how some of Assange’s high-profile supporters have reacted.