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WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange cannot be extradited to the US, British judge rules

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The US can still appeal the decision

Protestors At Court Supporting Julian Assange Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images

A judge in the United Kingdom has denied Julian Assange’s extradition to the United States, where he faces espionage charges for his work running WikiLeaks. The Guardian reports that the ruling was delivered in a criminal court this morning, with the Wall Street Journal reporting that the judge noted that the risk of suicide is too high.

Assange will now remain in British custody pending a bail application, and the US government is free to proceed with an appeal against the decision. This particular ruling is only related to the US request for extradition under an extradition treaty between the UK and US. The full ruling is available here.

Initially detained by the UK for violating his bail conditions, Assange faces hacking and espionage charges in the US related to a string of Wikileaks publications that the US Justice Department called “one of the largest compromises of classified information in the history of the United States.”

The case has raised significant free speech concerns, as many legal scholars see the government’s case as punishing the Wikileaks founder for publishing information. The extradition has also been unusually high-profile, with a number of UK protests in support of Assange and opposing extradition.

Assange was reportedly considered for a pardon by outgoing president Donald Trump, who benefitted from Wikileaks’ DNC releases during the 2016 campaign. However, Assange was not included in a December round of appeals, and it’s unclear whether Trump plans to intervene in the case.