WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange cannot be extradited to the US, a British judge has ruled.
Judge Vanessa Baraitser refused his extradition because of fears that Assange could commit suicide. The U.S. government has said that it will appeal the verdict.
U.S. prosecutors have indicted Assange on 17 espionage charges and one charge of computer misuse over WikiLeaks’ publication of leaked military and diplomatic documents in 2010.
WikiLeaks published hundreds of thousands of leaked documents about the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, as well as diplomatic cables.
Prosecutors say Assange helped the U.S. defense analyst Chelsea Manning breach the US Espionage Act. Assange has denied the claims and says there is no evidence anyone’s safety was compromised.
His lawyers argue the prosecution is politically motivated and that he is being pursued because he revealed evidence of war crimes and human rights abuses.
The U.S. non-profit Freedom of the Press Foundation tweeted: “The case against Julian Assange is the most dangerous threat to US press freedom in decades. This is a huge relief to anyone who cares about the rights of journalists.
“The extradition request was not decided on press freedom grounds; rather, the judge essentially ruled the US prison system was too repressive to extradite. However, the result will protect journalists everywhere.”