Protesters demanded freedom for WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, at the Brandenburg Gate on April 1 in Berlin, Germany.

In January, a judge denied Assange bail, demanding that he remain in prison while the United States seeks his extradition so he can face espionage charges.

Assange has been in prison since April 2019 for skipping bail on charges against him from seven years earlier.

Clair Dobbin, a British lawyer acting for the U.S., said Assange had shown he would go “to almost any length” to avoid extradition, and would likely flee if he is granted bail.

U.S. prosecutors indicted Assange on 17 espionage charges and one charge of computer misuse over WikiLeaks’ publication of thousands of leaked military and diplomatic documents. The maximum sentence for these charges is 175 years in prison. Prosecutors also say he unlawfully helped U.S. Army intelligence analyst, Chelsea Manning, steal classified diplomatic cables and military files that were later published by WikiLeaks.

Assange’s lawyers say he was acting as a journalist and is protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The judge rejected that argument in an extradition hearing, but agreed to keep Assange in a British prison rather than sending him to the United States.

“I am satisfied that, in these harsh conditions, Mr. Assange’s mental health would deteriorate, causing him to commit suicide,” the judge said in her ruling.

There have been protests in major cities around the world demanding that Assange be freed.

Over a decade ago, Assange’s legal troubles began when he was arrested in London at the request of Sweden, which wanted to question him about allegations of rape and sexual assault made by two women.

He sought refuge at the Ecuadorian Embassy in 2012, but was evicted by the country  in 2019. He was then arrested by British police. Sweden dropped the sex crimes charges against him in November 2019.

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