U.K. judge Vanessa Baraitser delivered the judgement on Monday ruled that Julian Assange, the founder and publisher of WikiLeaks, should not be extradited to the U.S. to face espionage charges over concerns that he could be at risk of suicide.
Baraitser argued in her ruling that extradition would be unacceptably “oppressive” due to Assange’s mental state—including diagnoses of Asperger syndrome, autism, and suicidal thoughts—and the risk that Assange could in fact kill himself if those conditions were exacerbated by the state of isolation he’d likely face in the US justice system.
The Justice Department alleges that Assange conspired to hack government computers and broke a secrecy law in releasing the sensitive cables, which were leaked by U.S. Army analyst Chelsea Manning.
Charges against him in the U.S. allege that his publication of the classified files was illegal and endangered lives.
If he was extradited to the U.S., Assange’s lawyers say he could face up to 175 years in prison, though U.S. prosecutors say he would face closer to five years.
The U.S. prosecution’s appeal will go to London’s High Court, and the case could continue to the U.K. Supreme Court.