Julian Assange denied bail after claiming he’s at risk of coronavirus

Julian Assange's bail application has been rejected after he asked to be let out over the coronavirus fears.

The Judge said the coronavirus pandemic does not, of itself, provide grounds for release, and he cannot be trusted not to flee.

WikiLeaks founder Assange, 48, is fighting extradition from Britain to the United States.

He was denied bail on Wednesday after his lawyers said he should be released because he was at high risk of contracting the coronavirus in prison.

Ahead of his bail request campaign group Don’t Extradite Assange said: “Prisons are considered epicenters for the spread of COVID-19 due to overcrowding and the propensity of the virus to spread in closed environments."

Assange is wanted by the United States on 18 criminal counts of conspiring to hack government computers and violating an espionage law and says he could spend decades in prison if convicted.

"As matters stand today, this global pandemic does not as ofitself provide grounds for Mr Assange's release," said Judge Vanessa Baraitser at Westminster Magistrates' Court.

She said Assange's past conduct showed how far he was prepared to go to avoid extradition proceedings, and there were substantial grounds to believe that if released he would abscond again.

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She was referring to the fact that Assange skipped bail and fled to the Ecuadorean embassy in London in 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he was wanted at the time to answer questions on alleged sex crimes. The allegations have since been dropped.

Assange remained holed up in the embassy for seven years. He was eventually dragged out after Ecuador revoked his asylum.

His extradition trial began in February and was adjourned until May 18.

The Australian is being held at Belmarsh Prison in London.

  • Coronavirus

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