Wikileaks

Appeal court allows review of Assange's mental health for extradition case

Julian Assange, who is being held in a prison in London, faces more than 100 years in an American jail if he is extradited to the United States to stand trial on espionage charges.
Julian Assange, who is being held in a prison in London, faces more than 100 years in an American jail if he is extradited to the United States to stand trial on espionage charges. REUTERS/John Stillwell

A court in London on Wednesday gave the American government a chance to reassess the mental state of the Wikileaks founder Julian Assange as part of its attempt to extradite him from Britain to the United States where he faces up to 175 years in prison on spying charges.

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In January, Westminster magistrates court refused Washington’s request to take Assange to the US.

District judge Vanessa Baraitser said the move posed a risk to the mental health of Assange who had been deemed a suicide risk.

But during a hearing at the appeal court in London, Judge Timothy Holroyde said it was arguable that the appeal court might make a different assessment.

Omission

He told the hearing that a key expert had omitted to disclose to the magistrates court what he knew about Assange's relationship with his partner Stella Moris.

Holroyde said the appeal could include a reassessment of the expert evidence used to evaluate the likelihood of Assange taking his own life.

"It is my view arguable that the district judge erred," Holroyde said.

Assange, 50, faces 18 criminal charges in the US of breaking an espionage law and conspiring to hack government computers.  Washington accuses him of having endangered US intelligence sources.

Assange, who is supported by a number of press freedom organisations, has been held at the maximum security prison in Belmarsh, south-east London, due to fears that he might abscond if he is released on bail.

He was arrested by British police in April 2019 after spending seven years at the Ecuadorian embassy in London.

He had taken refuge at the complex in central London to avoid court appearances that could have led to his extradition to the US or Sweden where he faced rape charges that have since been dropped.

The case continues.

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