A U.K. judge ruled on Monday that Julian Assange, the founder and publisher of WikiLeaks, should not be extradited to the U.S. to face charges including espionage.
The ruling, which the prosecution can appeal, prevents Assange from facing 18 charges in the U.S. for his role in publishing hundreds of thousands of secret U.S. files and diplomatic cables on WikiLeaks.
One of the files, published in 2010, was a now-infamous video of the July 12, 2007 airstrikes carried out in Baghdad by U.S. military helicopters. The attack on civilians claimed the lives of around a dozen people, including two journalists.
The Justice Department alleges that Assange conspired to hack government computers and broke a secrecy law by releasing the sensitive cables, which were leaked by U.S. Army analyst Chelsea Manning.
The 49-year-old publisher of WikiLeaks, a controversial nonprofit organization that publishes leaked and classified documents, has had a decade of legal trouble in the U.K.
In 2010, Sweden sought Assange’s extradition to face charges for sex crimes, and when he lost that case in 2012 he fled to the Ecuadorean embassy in London, where he spent seven years.
In April 2019 he lost the protection of the Ecuadorean government and was arrested for breaching U.K. bail conditions. That June, the U.S. asked the U.K. to extradite him.