Judge to Assange: You Must Stay in Jail

His lawyers asked for bail because of the coronavirus
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 25, 2020 2:33 PM CDT
Judge to Assange: You Must Stay in Jail
This is a court artist sketch of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange at Belmarsh Magistrates Court on Feb. 24, 2020.   (Elizabeth Cook/PA via AP)

Julian Assange has a long wait ahead of him while a court decides whether he will be extradited to the US, and it looks like he will have to endure that wait behind bars. A London judge on Wednesday rejected his attorney's request for bail related to the coronavirus pandemic, reports Reuters. Attorney Edward Fitzgerald said the 48-year-old has a history of respiratory and heart issues that make him especially vulnerable to COVID-19. "The emphasis is not on flight but survival," he argued. The judge rejected the plea but suggested circumstances might change, notes the Sydney Morning Herald.

"As matters stand today, this global pandemic does not as of itself provide grounds for Mr. Assange's release," declared Judge Vanessa Baraitser. She said Assange's history suggests he's a big flight risk: "In my view, there are substantial grounds to believe that if [released] ... today he would not return to face his extradition hearing." As of now, Assange's next hearing is scheduled for May 18. The US wants him extradited to face multiple accounts of violating the Espionage Act over WikiLeaks' publication of classified information. (More Julian Assange stories.)

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