A British judge on Monday denied a request from the United States to extradite WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Extradition to the U.S. would be unjust and oppressive to Assange’s mental health, British Magistrate Vanessa Baraitser said in her decision. A psychiatrist who analyzed Assange during his time in prison in London, told Baraitser that Assange was at a very high risk of committing suicide. U.S. prosecutors have indicted Assange on 17 espionage charges and one charge of computer misuse over WikiLeaks’ publication of leaked military and diplomatic documents a decade ago. The charges carry a maximum sentence of 175 years in prison. Assange’s defense layers argue that he was acting as a journalist and is entitled to First Amendment protections of freedom of speech for publishing leaked documents that exposed U.S. military wrongdoing in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The judge rejected claims by the defense that Assange was protected by free-speech guarantees. But the judge said Assange suffered from clinical depression that would be exacerbated by the isolation he would likely face in a U.S. prison. Supporters of Assange celebrated today decision in the street. Assange remains in London’s high security Belmarsh Prison. The U.S. government says it will appeal the decision to not extradite Assange.