WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s extradition to the US to face hacking and espionage charges has been blocked by a judge over fears he would kill himself inside an American prison.
The 49-year-old campaigner spent almost seven years living inside the Ecuadorian embassy in Knightsbridge over fears he would be shipped to America over the notorious leak of around 250,000 diplomatic cables and confidential US documents.
He has been detained at maximum security HMP Belmarsh for the last 20 months while waging a battle against extradition, arguing he would face persecution and an unfair trial in the US.
District Judge Vanessa Baraitser ruled that Assange should not be extradited by the UK, finding that he is depressed and may take his own life in the isolation of a US high security prison.
“I am satisfied Mr Assange has the intellect and determination to circumvent suicide prevention measures”, she ruled, saying the US processes “wold not prevent Mr Assange from finding a way to commit suicide.
“I have decided extradition would be oppressive by reason of Mr Assange’s mental health.”
The US government immediately announced it would appeal against today’s bombshell ruling, with Assange facing the possibility of remaining in prison until the legal process is over.