Suicidal Wikileaks founder Julian Assange was denied bail Wednesday as the US continues its bid to extradite him on espionage charges.
District Judge Vanessa Baraitser noted the 49-year-old Australian’s seven years inside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London as proof that he was too much of a flight risk to release while the US government appeals the decision she made Monday not to extradite him.
“I am satisfied that there are substantial grounds for believing that if Mr. Assange is released today he would fail to surrender to court to face the appeal proceedings,” Baraitser said Wednesday.
“As far as Mr. Assange is concerned this case has not yet been won … the outcome of this appeal is not yet known.”
Her latest ruling comes after Mexico offered the accused hacker political asylum, while his native Australia said he would be welcome home.
Wednesday’s decision means Assange must remain in London’s high-security Belmarsh Prison where he has been held since April 2019 after he was kicked out of the Ecuadorian Embassy.
Assange faces up to 175 years in prison if convicted of hacking US secrets. Baraitser deemed him too great a suicide risk to extradite, a ruling the US government immediately said it would appeal.
The appeal will be heard by Britain’s High Court at an unspecified date.
US prosecutors have indicted Assange on 17 espionage charges and one charge of computer misuse over WikiLeaks’ publication of leaked military and diplomatic documents a decade ago.
Assange’s lawyers have insisted that he was acting as a journalist and is entitled to First Amendment protections of freedom of speech for publishing leaked documents that exposed US military wrongdoing in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Julian Assange denied bail amid US appeal to extradite him from UK The British Journal Editors and Wire Services/ New York Post.