UPDATE | Mexico offers political asylum for Julian Assange after court refuses extradition

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  • The extradition of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to the US was blocked by a British judge, who said he was a suicide risk.
  • The US seeks to have Assange extradited to face espionage charges for his part in publishing secret documents online.
  • Assange was remanded in custody until his bail application could take place.

Mexico on Monday offered political asylum to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, after a British judge blocked his extradition to the United States to face espionage charges.

"I'm going to ask the foreign minister to carry out the relevant procedures to request that the UK government releases Mr. Assange and that Mexico offers him political asylum," President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador told reporters.

US prosecutors, on the back of the judgment, indicated they will appeal. Lawyer Edward Fitzgerald said he would apply for bail for Assange on Wednesday, pending that appeal.

A British judge on Monday ruled that Assange should not be extradited to the United States to face espionage charges for publishing secret documents online, finding he was at risk of suicide.

District Judge Vanessa Baraitser said extradition of the Australian publisher would be "oppressive by reason of mental harm and I order his discharge".

She said if detained in the United States, Assange "faces the bleak prospect of severely restrictive detention conditions designed to remove physical contact and reduce social interaction and contact with the outside world to a bare minimum".

In her ruling, she said:

He faces these prospects as someone with a diagnosis of clinical depression and persistent thoughts of suicide.

"I am satisfied that the risk that Mr Assange will commit suicide is a substantial one."

US, British prosecutors can appeal

Assange was remanded in custody until a bail application, which could take place later on Monday.

The 49-year-old wiped his forehead as the decision was announced while his fiancée Stella Moris burst into tears. She was embraced by WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Kristinn Hrafnsson.

Julian Assange arrives at court
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange arrives at Westminster Magistrate's Court in London, after he was arrested by officers from the Metropolitan Police.
Getty Images PHOTO: Victoria Jones/PA Images via Getty Images

Outside the Old Bailey court in central London, Assange supporters who had gathered since the early morning cheered and shouted, "Free Assange!"

However, US and British prosecutors can appeal Baraitser's ruling.

Assange and his legal team have long argued that the protracted case, which has become a cause celebre for media freedom, was politically motivated.

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