UK: Decision to refuse Assange bail renders his continued detention “arbitrary”

Today’s decision by the Magistrate’s Court in London to deny Julian Assange’s request for bail has rendered his continued detention arbitrary, said Amnesty International.

“Today’s decision to refuse Julian Assange’s bail application renders his ongoing detention ‘arbitrary’, and compounds the fact that he has endured punishing conditions in high security detention at Belmarsh prison for more than a year,” said Nils Muižnieks, Amnesty International’s Europe Director.

Today’s decision to refuse Julian Assange’s bail application renders his ongoing detention ‘arbitrary’
Amnesty International

“Rather than finally going home with his loved ones and sleeping in his own bed for the first time in almost ten years, Julian Assange will be driven back to his solitary cell in a high security prison.”

Julian Assange has been detained for more than year pending a decision on his extradition to the US. On Monday, a judge ruled that extradition to the US would be unlawful. After so long in detention the failure to grant him bail has rendered his detention arbitrary.

On Monday, the judge noted the dire state of Assange’s mental health, and the risk to his health has been compounded by the ongoing COVID pandemic in the UK.

The US government is behaving as if they have jurisdiction all over the world to pursue any person who publishes information about government wrongdoing. Today’s decision seems intended to send a message that British justice will not stand in their way
Amnesty International

“It is clear that Julian Assange should not have been jailed pending extradition in the first place. The charges against him were politically-motivated, and the UK government should never have so willingly assisted the US in its unrelenting pursuit of Assange,” said Nils Muižnieks.

“The US government is behaving as if they have jurisdiction all over the world to pursue any person who receives and publishes information about government wrongdoing. Today’s decision seems intended to send a message that British justice will not stand in their way.”

For more information or to arrange an interview contact at the court: press@amnesty.org stefan.simanowitz@amnesty.org  +44 2030365599

See our response to Monday’s extradition verdict https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2021/01/uk-assange-extradition-decision-welcome-but-exposes-politically-motivated-process/

BACKGROUND

The US extradition request is based on charges directly related to the publication of leaked classified documents as part of Assange’s work with Wikileaks. Publishing such information is a cornerstone of media freedom and the public's right to information about government wrongdoing.

Publishing information in the public interest is protected under international human rights law and should not be criminalized.

If extradited to the US, Julian Assange could face trial on 18 charges, 17 of them under the Espionage Act; and one under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. He would also face a real risk of serious human rights violations due to detention conditions that could amount to torture or other ill-treatment, including prolonged solitary confinement. Julian Assange is the first publisher to face charges under the Espionage Act.