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UK Judge Denies Bail for Julian Assange Despite Facing No Charges in the Country

A London court rejected the bail request on fears that he’s a flight risk.

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Just days after refusing to extradite WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to the United States, UK Judge Vanessa Baraitser denied his bail request, despite the fact that there are no charges pending against him in the country. 

The US said it would appeal for extradition on Monday and asked that Assange be kept in custody while that process was taking place, and the judge agreed.

According to CNN, Judge Vanessa Baraitser said in her Wednesday ruling that “there are substantial grounds for believing that if Mr. Assange is released today he would fail to surrender to court and face the appeal proceedings.”

Assange’s defense team suggested that he could be placed on house arrest with GPS monitoring to ensure that he returned to court, but this request was denied.

Baraitser’s rejected the request, claiming that Assange had “already demonstrated that he has been willing to flout the order of this court” and that “stringent conditions previously imposed upon him did nothing to prevent this.”

The US government has 10 days to file their appeal with the UK High Court, according to Nick Vamos, a lawyer and former head of extradition at the UK’s Crown Prosecution Service. Vamos said that the appeal is likely to be heard in the next two or three months. 

Marc Raimondi, acting director of Public Affairs for the US Department of Justice said in a statement on Monday that “while we are extremely disappointed in the court’s ultimate decision, we are gratified that the United States prevailed on every point of law raised. In particular, the court rejected all of Mr. Assange’s arguments regarding political motivation, political offense, fair trial, and freedom of speech.”

At an extradition hearing for Julian Assange earlier this year, a psychiatrist testified that the embattled Wikileaks founder is experiencing strong hallucinations and is at a high risk of suicide. Professor Michael Kopelman, an emeritus professor of neuropsychiatry at King’s College London, said that Assange has been hearing voices and has confessed to a priest that he was making preparations to kill himself. These preparations included drafting his will and writing a goodbye letter to his family and friends.

The embattled journalist has lived through some extremely intense conditions while being detained over the past several years. It was revealed in court that US intelligence agencies once discussed plans to poison or kidnap Assange while he was living in the Ecuadorian embassy.

A witness testified during his extradition hearing that, “There was a suggestion that the door of the embassy would be left open allowing people to enter from the outside and kidnap or poison Assange.”

According to the Guardian, pressure on Assange from US intelligence agencies has actually increased significantly under President Trump, despite often-repeated claims that WikiLeaks formed some sort of alliance with Trump prior to the 2016 election.

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