Why is Julian Assange in jail
Wikileaks founder Julian Assange remains in custody in the UK. A court in London on Wednesday denied the defense’s motion to release the 49-year-old on bail. There are reasons to believe that Assange would flee if released, said judge Vanessa Baraitser.
On Monday, the same judge also rejected a US extradition request against Assange. Baraitser had based her first decision on Assange's mental health and the conditions of detention that would await him in the United States. It is to be expected that he will commit suicide in solitary confinement. Now she said Assange could be treated well in the maximum security Belmarsh Prison. In addition, there is a risk of escape, as Assange had tried to escape in the past.
Assange had evaded prosecution at the Ecuadorian embassy in London for nearly seven years. An appeal can still be lodged against the judgment - as well as against the new decision. The US judiciary accuses Assange of stealing and publishing secret material from US military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan together with whistleblower Chelsea Manning. He put the lives of US informants in danger.
Hope in Joe Biden
His supporters, on the other hand, consider him an investigative journalist who brought war crimes to light. The journalists' organization Reporters Without Borders no longer sees great chances of success for the US judiciary. "It is very unlikely that a US appointment will be successful," said the organization's London representative, Rebecca Vincent, of the German press agency. "I don't see what new arguments the lawyers could bring up in court." She hopes that US President-elect Joe Biden will be able to settle Assange's prosecution when he takes office.
Biden is slated to be sworn in on January 20th in the United States, ending Donald Trump's era. The UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Nils Melzer, warned of a precedent "which denies investigative journalists the protection of the freedom of the press and paves the way for their prosecution on charges of espionage". Monday's verdict is dangerous. The only question left is whether Assange is fit enough to endure the conditions of detention in the USA, said Melzer according to a statement.
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