Julian Assange’s supporters welcome decision but question reasons behind ruling

Alan Jones, PA Industrial Correspondent
·3-min read

Supporters of Julian Assange were overjoyed at the decision not to extradite him to the United States but expressed dismay that the ruling was made on health grounds.

His mother, Christine, urged the US not to appeal against the ruling, saying her son has suffered enough.

A spokesman for the Courage Foundation, one of the groups campaigning on behalf of the WikiLeaks founder, said: “We welcome today’s decision.

“We share concerns about his health but we are concerned about many other elements of this decision.

“A clear signal has been sent that the US arms can reach everywhere.”

Fidel Narvaez, who worked at the Ecuadorean embassy for much of the time Assange lived there, said: “Be aware that freedom of expression is still under attack – if it was not for Julian’s health condition, he would be extradited.”

Assange’s mother tweeted: “UK Judge Vanessa Baraitser ruled against extraditing my son Julian to the US on medical grounds.

“US prosecutors state they will appeal.

“I implore Pres Trump & Pres elect Biden to order them to stand down.

“The decade long process was the punishment.

“He has suffered enough.”

Labour MP Richard Burgon said: “It is entirely right that Julian Assange will not be extradited to the US.

“Julian Assange would have been extradited because, as a journalist, he dared to expose US war crimes.

“Any extradition would have been an unprecedented attack on press freedom.”

Michelle Stanistreet, general secretary of the National Union of Journalists, said: “This decision will be welcomed by all who value journalists’ ability to report on national security issues. However, whilst the outcome is the right one, Judge Vanessa Baraitser’s judgment contains much that is troubling.

“Her basis for dismissing the US’s extradition request was the suicide risk that Assange poses in a US penal system that would probably have kept him in near total isolation.

“The judge rejected the defence case that the charges against Assange related to actions identical to those undertaken daily by most investigative journalists.

“In doing so, she leaves open the door for a future US administration to confect a similar indictment against a journalist.

“Given his lengthy period of incarceration, it is surely also time to grant Assange bail so that he can join his young family.”

Nils Muiznieks, Amnesty International’s Europe director, said: “The charges against him should never have been brought in the first place.

“The charges were politically motivated and the UK Government should never have so willingly assisted the US in its unrelenting pursuit of Assange.

“The fact that the ruling is correct and saves Assange from extradition does not absolve the UK from having engaged in this politically motivated process at the behest of the USA and putting media freedom and freedom of expression on trial.”