Wikileaks’s founder Julian Assange will not be extradited to the U.S., a U.K. judge has ruled. The hotly anticipated ruling comes as a major victory to Assange and his supporters–and a very public defeat for the U.S. government.
The U.S. has been attempting to extradite Assange ever since his arrest by British police at the Ecuadorian embassy in London in April of 2019. Assange had been holed up in the embassy for years after Wikileaks in 2010 published hundreds of thousands of leaked government documents relating to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, some of which revealed evidence of war crimes.
The U.S. has long argued that Wikileaks’s publication of the documents violated the U.S. Espionage Act. However, Wikileaks, Assange, his supporters, and many freedom of speech experts say Assange acted in the public interest by publishing the documents and is protected by existing press freedoms.
Critics of the U.S. government’s pursuit of Assange have long said that it is politically motivated and that if Assange were to be extradited, he would not get a fair trial in the U.S. They also say it would send a grave signal that freedom of the press is under attack by the United States and any country that agreed to extradite him.
While today is a major victory for Assange, it is believed the U.S. will move quickly to appeal the ruling, Bloomberg notes.