Sept. 13 (UPI) — A British judge ruled Friday that Wikileaks co-founder Julian Assange, who’s wanted in both the United States and Sweden, will not be released this month because he has a history of disappearing.
Assange was scheduled to be released from jail Sept. 22 at the end of his 50-week sentence, for jumping bail several years ago. A Westminster Magistrates Court said Friday, however, there are “substantial grounds” for believing he would skip bail again to avoid extradition to the United States, where he faces computer hacking charges.
An extradition hearing is scheduled for Feb. 25, and the judge ordered Assange held until then.
District Judge Vanessa Baraiser told Assange that his attorney did not apply for bail on his behalf, adding “perhaps not surprisingly in light of your history of absconding in these proceedings.”
“In my view I have substantial grounds for believing if I release you, you will abscond again,” she said.
The 48-year-old Australian appeared in the courtroom through a video link from jail.
When asked if he understood the decision, Assange said, “Not really. I’m sure the lawyers will explain it.”
Assange faces 18 charges in the United States, including disclosing unauthorized national defense secrets and misusing a computer. He’s accused of working with former U.S. intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to hack classified information.
He’s also wanted in Sweden in a sexual assault case.
Assange avoided arrest for seven years by living in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London under asylum. The embassy expelled him in April and he was immediately arrested.