London Judge Denies Assange Release on Bail

Following the Jan. 4 ruling by British judge Vanessa Baraitser against extraditing WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to the United States (cf. SAS 1/21), the same judge refused two days later to grant his request to be freed on bail.

She had rejected the extradition request on the narrow grounds that Assange would seek to commit suicide if imprisoned in the United States, and that the prison authorities could not ensure his safety. One would expect her to grant bail from a UK high-security prison for the same reason, given his physical and mental health issues. But she did not.

She argued that he would be inclined to jump bail and leave the country if released, just as he had previously jumped bail in the UK by taking asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy in London. She noted that he has “huge support networks should he again choose” to flee, adding that WikiLeaks had helped Snowden’s “flight to Russia.” (In fact, the U.S. State Department revoked Snowden’s passport, stranding him in a Moscow airport.) Attorneys for the U.S. Justice Department are considering appealing the judge’s decision on extradition.

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