IFJ Calls For Action After WikiLeaks Founder Assange Denied Bail Despite COVID-19 Threat

IFJ Calls for Action After WikiLeaks Founder Assange Denied Bail Despite COVID-19 Threat

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) on Thursday called for action after jailed WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was denied bail by a UK court despite his increased risk of contracting the new coronavirus

MOSCOW (UrduPoint News / Sputnik - 26th March, 2020) The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) on Thursday called for action after jailed WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was denied bail by a UK court despite his increased risk of contracting the new coronavirus.

"#FreeAssange Yesterday, the emergency bail application for Julian Assange made in light of the #COVIDー19 pandemic was denied. Due to his health condition, Assange faces an elevated risk of contracting Covid-19 and could suffer serious consequences from the virus. Time to act," the IFJ wrote on Twitter.

Assange's defense team made the application for emergency bail at Westminster Magistrates' Court on Wednesday, but the request was denied by judge Vanessa Baraitser, who ruled that the WikiLeaks founder poses a flight risk.

Edward Fitzgerald, Assange's defense counsel, argued that not only was the WikiLeaks founder at risk of catching COVID-19, but recently imposed social distancing measures enacted by the UK Ministry of Justice would prevent face-to-face visits between Assange and his legal team.

Additionally, travel restrictions imposed by the UK government in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and similar measures taken by governments around the world, meant that it would be impossible for the second part of Assange's extradition trial to begin in May, as scheduled, because witnesses may still not be allowed to travel to give testimony.

The WikiLeaks founder faces extradition to the United States to stand trial on 18 Federal charges, 17 of which are in relation to the US Espionage Act. The WikiLeaks founder could be sentenced to a maximum of 175 years incarceration if convicted. He is currently being held at London's Belmarsh prison.

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