New Delhi: A court in the UK on Wednesday denied bail to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and directed that will have to remain in custody in Britain, pending a US appeal of the decision to block his extradition to face charges, a judge in London ruled Wednesday.Also Read - WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange Can be Extradited to United States: UK Court Rules
British District Judge Vanessa Baraitser ordered Assange to remain in prison while the courts consider an appeal by U.S. Authorities against a decision not to extradite him. The 49-year-old Australian has been charged in the US under the Espionage Act for his role in publishing classified military and diplomatic cables and has been jailed in Britain since 2019. Also Read - WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange Should Not be Extradited to US, Rules UK Judge
On Monday, the judge rejected an American request to send Assange to the U.S. to face espionage charges over WikiLeaks publication of secret military documents a decade ago. She denied extradition on health grounds, saying the 49-year-old Australian was likely to kill himself if held under harsh U.S. Prison conditions. Also Read - 'Free Julian Assange': Fashion Designer-Activist Vivienne Westwood Protests Inside Bird Cage Against Extradition of WikiLeaks Founder to US
The judge said Wednesday that Assange has an incentive to abscond and there is a good chance he would fail to return to court if freed.
Earlier on Tuesday, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador had offered political asylum to Assange, after a UK court blocked the latter’s extradition to the US, citing concerns over his “mental health and “risk of suicide”.
Addressing a press conference, the President said he will ask the Foreign Affairs Ministry to contact British officials over the asylum offer and request that Assange be pardoned, reports Xinhua news agency.
“It is a triumph of justice. I commend England’s action because Assange is a journalist and deserves a chance,” Lopez Obrador told reporters, referring to the ruling.
“We will give him protection, we will take that step,” the President added.
Assange faces an 18-count indictment from the US government, accusing him of conspiring to hack into US military databases to acquire sensitive secret information relating to the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, which was then published on the Wikileaks website.
According to him, the information exposed abuses by the US military.
Assange was jailed for 50 weeks in May 2019 for breaching his bail conditions after going into hiding in the Ecuadorian embassy in London. He sought refuge in the embassy for seven years from 2012 until he was arrested in April 2019.