It's devastating to find out how WikiLeaks honcho Julian Assange went from an award-winning journalist to a prisoner on suicide watch. The 49-year-old Australian is a wanted man in the U.S. after publishing hundreds of thousands of classified military and diplomatic documents from 2010 to 2011.
Assange is currently locked up in prison in southeast London. In the recent few weeks, his mental health has been deteriorating slowly as he spent most of the last decade in confinement.
"Faced with the conditions of near total isolation without the protective factors which limited his risk at HMP Belmarsh, I am satisfied the procedures described by the U.S. will not prevent Mr Assange from finding a way to commit suicide and for this reason I have decided extradition would be oppressive by reason of mental harm and I order his discharge," said Judge Vanessa Baraitser, as reported by CNBC.
The United States government has 14 days to appeal the decision, but the Trump administration's next move is still pretty much unclear at this point. Assange has been charged under the Espionage Act for his short-lived role in publishing classified documents.
One Step Away from Freedom
However, the good news is, Assange is one step away from freedom as the British judge ruled that he can not be extradited back to the United States following his mental health status.
In a statement, Stella Morris, Assange's fiancée, begged President Trump to pardon Assange and put this long-lasting feud once and for all.
"Mr. President, tear down these prison walls," said the mother of two outside the Old Bailey criminal court in London. "Let our little boys have their father. Free Julian, free the press, free us all."
Last Wednesday, Assange's lawyer applied for bail at Westminster Magistrates Court in London, but the British judge denied it. That means the Australian journalist would remain locked up in the British prison, but he will not be extradited despite President Trump's order.
"There are substantial grounds for believing that if Mr. Assange is released today he would fail to surrender to court and face the appeal proceedings," said the judge.
WikiLeaks' Perplexing Relationship
Julian Assange founded WikiLeaks, an international non-profit organization and leaked news publisher, in 2006.
His organization gained international attention in 2010 after leaking reports on the Baghdad airstrike, the war logs in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the Cablegate scandal all in the same year, provided by U.S. Army analyst and whistleblower Chelsea Manning.
After a series of cat-and-mouse chase with the U.S. government, he took refuge in the Embassy of Ecuador in London by June 2012 and granted asylum on the grounds of political persecution.
Unfortunately, after a series of disputes with the Ecuadorian authorities, the embassy withdrew his asylum, and the police arrested him in 2019.
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