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Iran Press TV

Julian Assange denied bail by the Old Bailey

Iran Press TV

Wednesday, 06 January 2021 5:06 PM

Barely two days after his extradition to the US was blocked on health grounds, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been denied bail by the Old Bailey in London.

District Judge Vanessa Baraitser (the same judge who blocked the extradition request) rejected Assange's bail bid on the "substantial grounds" that the latter has an incentive to abscond.

The ruling by the Oil Bailey (formally known as the Central Criminal Court of England and Wales), means that Assange will stay incarcerated in London's notorious Belmarsh prison until at least the conclusion of a US government appeal against the rejection of extradition request.

Assange has been in some form of incarceration since June 2012 when he sought sanctuary at the Ecuadorean Embassy in London.

US prosecutors had originally indicted Assange on 17 espionage charges and one charge of computer misuse over WikiLeak's publication of secret military and diplomatic documents.

Many of these documents pointed to war crimes committed by US and allied forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Assange's lawyers fought the US extradition on the grounds that the Australian citizen was an investigative journalist and that his treatment so far by the British authorities had damaged his mental health to the point of breakdown.

But in her ruling on Monday (January 04), Judge Baraitser of Westminster Magistrates' Court, rejected Assange's main defense, ruling that he had "sacrificed the safety of others" in the name of free speech.

In effect, Judge Baraitser ruled that Assange can get a fair trial in the US but the harsh conditions in a maximum security US jail "would not prevent" the Australian journalist from "finding a way to commit suicide".

The relatively weak ground on which the US extradition request was blocked has raised fears among free speech supporters around the world of the US government overturning the ruling on appeal.

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