British judge denies bail to WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange

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Jan. 6 (UPI) — A British judge on Wednesday denied bail to WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange, two days after she ruled he could not be extradited to the United States to stand trial on espionage charges.

Judge Vanessa Baraitser ruled that Assange must remain in the high-security Belmarsh prison near London as U.S. officials appeal her extradition ruling.

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The judge said the 49-year-old Australian must remain jailed because he posed a flight risk.

With the ruling, Assange will remain in Belmash for at least several more months as American lawyers mount a legal challenge to Monday’s extradition ruling, in which Baraitser said Assange could not be sent to the United States due to his risk of suicide in the U.S. penal system.

Assange was arrested in April 2019 and has since been held at Belmarsh. He had been living in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London since 2012, where he sought asylum to dodge sexual assault charges in Sweden.

Assange was arrested after Ecuador withdrew its offer of asylum. Ecuador’s President Lenin Moreno said the country’s patience for Assange had “reached its limit” after “repeated violations to international conventions and daily life.”

Assange was indicted on 17 new charges of violating the Espionage Act in 2019 and already faced a charge from March 2018 of conspiring to commit unlawful computer intrusion, which carried a maximum five years in prison.

He was accused of working with former intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to obtain and publicly release classified information. The new charges brought his total charges to 18 counts with each violation of the Espionage Act carrying a maximum 10-year sentence.