No release for Julian Assange

Julian Assange is to remain in prison when his jail term ends because of his “history of absconding”, a judge has ruled. He was due to be released on 22 September after serving his sentence for breaching bail after fleeing to the Ecuadorian Embassy in London in 2012. But Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard there were “substantial grounds” for believing he would abscond again.

The Guardian reported on 14 September that District judge Vanessa Baraitser told him: “You have been produced today because your sentence of imprisonment is about to come to an end. When that happens your remand status changes from a serving prisoner to a person facing extradition.

“Therefore I have given your lawyer an opportunity to make an application for bail on your behalf and she has declined to do so, perhaps not surprisingly in light of your history of absconding in these proceedings.

“In my view I have substantial ground for believing if I release you, you will abscond again.”

Assange was asked if he understood what was happening. He replied: “Not really. I’m sure the lawyers will explain it.”

Another administrative hearing will take place on 11 October and a case management hearing on 21 October, the court heard.

He will face a full extradition hearing next year, starting on 25 February.

Meanwhile the NUJ has condemned the British government for its treatment of Julian Assange. NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet told the Morning Star on 20 September: “The NUJ is firmly opposed to the extradition of Julian Assange to the United States.”

She said: “We condemned the British government’s decision to sign off the extradition request in June because it is a direct attack on the freedom of the press and journalists’ ability to work with sources to reveal information in the public interest.”

The Morning Star also reports that UN special rapporteur on torture Nils Melzer, who visited Mr Assange in prison found evidence of psychological torture on him. Mr. Melzer told the Star he was “appalled” at how the government is treating the journalist.

 

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