District Judge Vanessa Baraitser concluded the hour-long hearing at Westminster Magistrate’s Court by denying the bail request. She told the court: “I am satisfied that there are substantial grounds for believing that if Mr Assange is released today he would fail to surrender to court to face the appeal proceedings.” As a result Mr Assange will be remanded in custody until the outcome of the US government’s appeal against a decision to block his extradition.
Mr Assange’s legal team had renewed hope his bail request would be granted today, after Judge Baraitser denied the US’ extradition request on Monday.
During the bail hearing, his lawyers emphasised Mr Assange’s new family ties here in the UK revolving around the two young children he has fathered with his partner, Stella Moris.
His legal team asked for him to be bailed to the couple’s home address.
But the US insisted Mr Assange has previously shown himself willing to skip bail – as he did in 2012 when he sought asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy – and go to “extraordinary length” to avoid a criminal trial.
Clair Dobbin, for the US government, told the court the history of Mr Assange’s case demonstrated that he “regards himself as above the law and no cost is too great, whether that cost be to himself or others”.
The lawyer added: “Given Mr Assange’s conduct, there is no surety that would secure his attendance.”
Judge Baraitser agreed that she could not assure Mr Assange would comply with the courts if he loses the extradition appeal.
The Wikileaks founder has been held in Belmarsh prison since April 2019, after he was arrested for “failing to surrender to the court” over a warrant issued in 2012.
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He was due to be released on September 22, 2019 but a court decided to keep him locked up, because of “substantial grounds” for believing he would abscond.
Ever since the Australian national has not been serving an active sentence, but instead been held “on remand”.
Mr Assange fled to the Ecuadorian embassy in central London in April 2019, after seeking asylum there to avoid extradition to Sweden on a rape allegation, which he has always denied.
He was given protection by then President Rafael Correa, a strong advocate of Wikileaks.
The Australian national stayed in the small office until April 2019 – when Ecuador rescinded his asylum.
The change in status enabled the Metropolitan Police to enter the embassy and arrest him for “failing to surrender to the court” over a warrant issued in 2012.
The following month Mr Assange was sentenced to 50 weeks in jail for breaching his bail conditions.
The WikiLeaks founder was then kept in prison, as the courts determined whether they would extradite Mr Assange to the US where he is accused of breaking the Espionage Act.
He faces an 18-count indictment, alleging a plot to hack computers and a conspiracy to obtain and disclose national defence information.
But on Monday a UK judge denied the extradition request.
Judge Baraitser accepted the US legal arguments in the case, but she said Mr Assange’s mental health issues meant he would be at risk of suicide if he were extradited.
The US Department of Justice says it will continue to seek his extradition and will appeal against her verdict.