Julian Assange Denied Bail, Despite Extradition Halt

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Wikileaks founder denied bail and will remain at Belmarsh prison, as Assange still has “incentive” to abscond from unresolved proceedings

Wikileaks co-founder Julian Assange has been denied bail, after his extradition to the United States was halted this week on health grounds.

On Monday District Judge Vanessa Baraitser in London blocked the US extradition request because of concerns over Assange’s mental health and risk of suicide in America.

Assange then applied for bail, but this has now been refused. The refusal is not that surprising considering Assange broke his bail conditions in 2012 to flee to the Ecuadorian Embassy, when he lost his final plea in the UK to avoid extradition to Sweden.

Bail denied

According to the Guardian newspaper, Judge Baraitser said the 49-year-old “still has an incentive to abscond from these, as yet unresolved, proceedings”.

The United States is appealing her decision to halt his extradition to the United States.

“As a matter of fairness the US must be allowed to challenge my decision,” said the judge, sitting at Westminster magistrates court.

Assange “had already demonstrated a willingness to flout” the orders of the court, she said, and people who had previously put their trust in him and given sureties had been let down and saw their money forfeited.

She was also satisfied that his mental health was being managed at Belmarsh, the Guardian reported.

Making the bail application, Assange’s lawyers said his abscondment eight years ago when he entered the Ecuadorian embassy was in “totally different circumstances” and he now had the opportunity to be reunited in the UK with his partner and two young children. He would live at their address and wear an ankle tag.

Assange’s bail application was reportedly contested by Clair Dobin, a barrister appearing for US authorities, who said the court “should be under no illusions” as to readiness of other states to offer protection to Assange.

She cited an offer of asylum which the president of Mexico had extended to Assange following Monday’s ruling. Assange would not necessarily have to leave the UK, she said, adding: “He would just have to enter another country’s embassy.”

His past activities, including involvement in helping the US whistleblower Edward Snowden, showed that Assange had resources and “the sheer wherewithal” to arrange his own flight, Dobin added.

Assange is wanted by the US Justice Department, which has accused him of violating the Espionage Act, after he received top secret data (from Chelsea Manning) and unlawfully published the names of classified sources back in 2010 and 2011.

Embassy standoff

Assange had been on the run for years after allegations of sexual assault charges in Sweden, most of which have now been dropped.

Assange has always denied the Swedish allegations of raping a woman and sexually molesting and coercing another in Stockholm.

He said the charges were a political ruse, and he fled to the Ecuadorian Embassy in June 2012, after he lost his final plea in the UK to avoid extradition to Sweden.

After a seven year stand off with British authorities, Assange was finally brought into custody when British police entered the Ecuadorian Embassy in April 2019 and dragged him out.

Assange was then found guilty in the Southwark Crown Court of breaching the Bail Act, and was sentenced to 50 weeks in jail, at Belmarsh prison in London, before he could be sent to the United States.

In May 2019 Julian Assange was too ill to appear via video link in a court room hearing to discuss his extradition to the United States.

But in June 2019 then Home Secretary Sajid Javid signed a US request for Julian Assange to be extradited to America.

Assange then made a court appearance in October 2019, where he failed to delay his extradition hearing to the United States.

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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