A court sketch of Julian Assange in District Judge Vanessa Baraitser’s court.

A British judge has backed the U.S government’s appeal to extradite WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. 

On Wednesday, judge Tim Holroyde, sitting with colleague Judith Farbey, ruled that the U.S government can be given more grounds to appeal against the blocking of their extradition request against Mr. Assange. 

This means that U.S authorities can challenge the decision made by British District Judge Vanessa Baraitser in January that the WikiLeaks founder could not be extradited because of concerns over his mental health and the risk of suicide in the U.S.

Despite this, she still ruled that Assange should stay in custody while Washington appeals this decision. 

The decision relied on evidence from Michael Kopelman, a professor of neuropsychiatry at King’s College London, who was later found to have misled the court by concealing the fact that Assange had fathered two children while he was a fugitive. 

Mr. Assange appeared via video link, wearing a dark face covering.

Arguing on behalf of Washington, lawyer Clair Dobbin said that Baraitser did not consider the weight of expert evidence proving that Assange was not a suicide risk, and demanded the High Court to probe into why the information was withheld by Kopelman.

“She really needed to interrogate why he was willing to mislead her,” Dobbin said about Kopelman’s testimony in the District Judge’s court. 

The judges said that it was “at least arguable” that Baraitser had made a mistake.

Rights groups have said that the trial is a challenge for press freedom. Edward Snowden took to Twitter to quote Amnesty International’s statement that the persecution of Julian Assange is politically motivated.

Stella Moris, Assange’s fiancee and the mother of his two young children, was tearful after the ruling was handed down, saying, “What has not been discussed today is why I fear for my safety and the safety of our children and Julian’s life.

“The constant threats and intimidation that we have endured for years which has been terrorizing us and has been terrorizing Julian for over 10 years.

“These are not just items of law, this is our lives. We have the right to exist and we have a right to live and we have a right for this nightmare to come to an end once and for all,” she told reporters outside of the High Court.

Former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn told Mr. Assange’s supporters outside of the Law Courts that the US government should “wind their necks in” and allow him to go free.

Mr. Corbyn said Mr. Assange was a reporter “in the tradition of fearless journalism” who had highlighted “a truth that was embarrassing to the US”.

Assange is currently being held at London’s high-security Belmarsh Prison. The 50-year old Australian is wanted on 18 charges in the US relating to the 2010 release by WikiLeaks of 500,000 secret files detailing aspects of military campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq. 

The full hearing in the case will take place on October 27 and 28. 

The story was filed by the News Desk. The Desk can be reached at info@thecorrespondent.com.pk.


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