The London borough of Westminster Magistrates ‘ Court has refused to release WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on bail. He will remain in prison pending a US appeal in the extradition case.
The refusal was motivated by the fact that Assange had already violated the bail conditions before. On the same basis, the judges rejected all previous petitions of his lawyers.
“The United States should have the opportunity to challenge my decision, and if Assange escapes, the American side will lose this opportunity. Also, the conditions in Belmarsh prison have nothing to do with the conditions that Assange can expect in an American prison and which were the reason for my previous decision,” Judge Vanessa Baraitser explained.
She recalled that Assange, taking refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy, once already failed those who vouched for him, gave a lot of money and lost bail. According to the judge, the founder of WikiLeaks has all the necessary connections to organize the escape.
According to the prosecution’s lawyer, Claire Dobbin, the Australian has sufficient support from influential people and governments of some countries, is not constrained in funds, and is ready to do anything to avoid extradition to the United States.
Assange’s lawyer, Edward Fitzgerald, in turn, noted that the decision “changes everything” since Assange now has more faith in the judicial system of England. He stressed that for many months the client was held in prison only based on an extradition request. Being in a penitentiary institution negatively affects the client’s mental health.
The defense of the WikiLeaks founder called Baraitser’s decision “inexplicable” because “the same judge refused extradition for humanitarian reasons, which she herself contradicts with this decision.”
“The precedent to which she refers has no basis <…> and cannot now be used to worsen his situation,” the defense said in a statement.
It notes that the judge “could have ordered another series of measures” that would have eliminated the risks since “the freedom to which Mr. Assange is entitled should not be denied from the point of view of humanity.”
The defense offered to place Assange under house arrest with an electronic bracelet, but, according to the judge, these measures would not be enough. Last time, the bail conditions were also strict, but this did not prevent the WikiLeaks founder from violating them.
On January 4, Baraitser refused to extradite Assange to the US authorities because of fears for the accused’s mental health. Lawyers for the American side said they would challenge the decision.