UK judge denies US request to extradite Julian Assange

Assange gestures from the window of a prison van on May 1, 2019.

London (CNN)A British judge has rejected a US request to extradite WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to America, ruling that such a move would be "oppressive" by reason of his mental health.

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.
"I have decided that extradition would be oppressive and I order his discharge," judge Vanessa Baraitser said in her ruling Monday.
    Despite ruling that Assange would be afforded a "fair trial" in the event of extradition to the United States, the judge considered that the "special administrative measures" Assange would most likely be held in would have a severe, negative impact on his mental health.
      Baraitser said Assange had "remained either severely or moderately clinically depressed," throughout his stay at London's Belmarsh prison and that he was now considered a suicide risk.
      She also said that the increased isolation he would face in detention in the US would further increase that risk, adding that Assange had the intellect to circumvent anti-suicidal measures that would be put in place.
      In her full ruling, published online, Baraitser wrote: "I accept that oppression as a bar to extradition requires a high threshold ... However, I am satisfied that, in these harsh conditions, Mr. Assange's mental health would deteriorate causing him to commit suicide with the 'single minded determination' of his autism spectrum disorder."
      "I find that the mental condition of Mr. Assange is such that it would be oppressive to extradite him to the United States of America," she added.
      A court sketch of Julian Assange at the Old Bailey in London for the ruling in his extradition case on Monday, January 4, 2021.