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Wikileaks founder Assange faces UK court ruling for extradition

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange faces a UK court ruling on Monday over whether he should be extradited to the United States on espionage charges for publishing hundreds of thousands of secret documents online.

District Judge Vanessa Baraitser is due to give her decision at the Old Bailey court in central London from 1000 GMT, in a case that has become a cause celebre for media freedom.

Assange, 49, faces 18 charges in the United States relating to the 2010 release by WikiLeaks of 500,000 secret files detailing aspects of military campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The extradition hearing follows over a decade of international legal controversies surrounding the Australian publisher.

Monday’s court decision is subject to appeal, meaning legal proceedings in the country could still continue before any possible extradition.

If convicted in the United States, Assange could be jailed for up to 175 years.

Before the ruling, both Germany and a UN rights expert expressed concern over the human rights and humanitarian problems presented by the extradition. 

Assange suffers from a respiratory condition that makes him more vulnerable to Covid-19, which has infected several inmates at the high-security prison in southeast London where he has been held.

Defence witnesses called during the hearing said Assange’s history of depression meant he would be a suicide risk if sent to the United States and locked up in a maximum-security prison.

He has also complained of hearing imaginary voices and music during his detention. 

Topics: WikiLeaks , Julian Assange , United States , Vanessa Baraitser
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