Kevin Gosztola: British Judge Keeps Julian Assange In Prison, Despite Denying Extradition Two Days Ago

By Kevin Gosztola, 1/6/20

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange speaks from the balcony of the Ecuadorian embassy where he sought asylum following an extradition request from Sweden in 2012, on February 5, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)

A British district judge denied bail for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange after a hearing in which the prosecution argued he had helped NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden “flee justice” and would abscond if released from the Belmarsh high-security prison.

“As far as Mr. Assange is concerned, this case has not been won,” Baraitser declared. She said the United States government “must be allowed to challenge [her] decision.”

Baraitser referred to the lengthy history of the case and how he “jumped bail” and entered the Ecuador Embassy to obtain asylum in 2012.

She went on to highlight the “huge support networks” he still has “should he again choose to go to ground,” and Baraitser agreed with the prosecution that WikiLeaks’ assistance of Snowden made Assange a flight risk.

Assange has been confined at Belmarsh since he was arrested and expelled from the Ecuador embassy in April 2019. All along, Judge Vanessa Baraitser agreed with prosecutors that he was a flight risk.

“Mr. Assange’s past conduct shows the lengths he is prepared to go to avoid extradition proceedings. If I released him today, he would not return to face these extradition proceedings,” Baraitser declared during a hearing in March 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic was initially intensifying worldwide.

In her ruling on bail, despite evidence of a recent outbreak at Belmarsh, the judge maintained that the facility was properly caring for prisoners and Assange would be safe.

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