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The decision not to release Julian Assange from prison on bail or on house arrest was taken today by the British court, on the grounds that he is a flight risk and that he should stay in prison until the USA had the possibility to appeal the decision not to extradite him to the USA.
Just Monday, Judge Vanessa Baraitser ruled that Assange should not be extradited for mental health reasons, as she considered the US penitentiary system to be barbaric, which would worsen Assange’s condition. However, today she decided not to release Assange as she considered that British prisons provided better conditions than the American ones so Assange’s life is not in danger there.
The defense stated that Assange has been held in prison since October 2019 because of the request for extradition to the USA. Since this has been rejected, he should now be released. Regarding the conditions at Belmarsh Prison, the defense stated that it was concerned about Assange’s health since half of the wing in which he is being held is infected with COVID-19.
The offer of the President of Mexico to grant political asylum to Assange was also mentioned. The defense stated that this would only happen if the trial ended and would help alleviate the risk of Assange being arrested if he travels abroad. But this was used against Assange by both the US and the judge to consider him a fugitive suspect as he will have a place to escape to if he wanted to.
The court even used the case of Edward Snowden to show that Assange could escape if released, stating that it was Assange and Wikileaks who helped Snowden to escape to Russia. What the judge forgot was that Snowden was trapped in Russia because the US government revoked his passport.
The trial concluded with the decision not to grant Assange release on bail. Assange remains in Belmarsh high-security prison while the USA extradition request was rejected due to the penitentiary system of the USA and not that of the UK. Assange remains in prison while no warrant is pending in the United Kingdom, since the USA has not yet appealed the decision.
John Rees (of @DEAcampaign) calls judge's denial of bail "extremely disappointing" as the UK is the one country Assange will be safe given her refusal to extradite him & that he could be targeted by the US anywhere else in the world he is less likely to skip bail
— Mohamed Elmaazi (@MElmaazi) January 6, 2021
John Rees of the Don’t Extradite Assange Campaign said that he could not be considered a flight risk since the safest country for Assange was the United Kingdom which had rejected his extradition.
All the supporters of Julian Assange were greatly disappointed by this decision, while his partner, Stella Morris, will appeal one more time to the president of the USA to grant a pardon and stop his persecution.
— Don't Extradite Assange (@DEAcampaign) January 6, 2021
Translation by Jeannette A. Arduino, from the voluntary Pressenza translation team. We are looking for volunteers!