The decision is expected to be appealed by the US government, which could lead to further legal disputes.
A British judge has ruled that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange should not be extradited to the United States on charges of espionage.
District Judge Vanessa Baraitser rendered the ruling against the U.S. claim on Monday at Old Bailey.
The decision is subject to appeal by the US government, which is trying to prosecute the whistleblower.
The case could then be taken to the UK Supreme Court, further delaying the final outcome.
Assange, 49, is expected to remain in UK prison in the meantime. He has been held at Belmarsh Maximum Security Prison in south-east London since April 2019.
Assange appeared in court on Monday, arriving from Belmarsh High Security Prison in south-east London, where he has been jailed for nearly two years.
As Monday’s decision approached, Assange had received a wave of support from press freedom advocates, who called on US President Donald Trump to forgive him.
“I am relieved that the judge has just condemned the extradition, but I am very unhappy with the way she stuck to all the major arguments put forward by the United States to characterize Assange’s work as going to the – beyond freedom of expression and journalism, “investigative journalist Stefania Maurizi told Al Jazeera. following the decision.
Maurizi works for the Italian daily Il Fatto Quotidiano and has worked on all of the secret WikiLeaks documents, including the 2010 documents for which Assange has been accused.
“I am also very concerned that Assange will remain in jail, because it is very likely that the United States will appeal: he is under serious threat both physically and mentally.
US authorities charge Australia-born Assange with 18 counts of conspiring to hack government computers and violating secrecy law by posting vast treasures of confidential military documents and diplomatic cables there. is over ten years old.
Al Jazeera’s Neave Barker, reporting from outside Old Bailey, said the decision would be “a blow” to the prosecution.
“We now assume that the appeal process will begin, taking this case to the High Court and possibly even the Supreme Court,” he said.
“We are talking potentially many months, if not more years, of legal wrangling ahead to decide Julian Assange’s future.”
This is a last minute update. More details to follow …