WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange cannot be extradited to the United States, a judge at the Old Bailey has ruled.
District Judge Vanessa Baraitser said at the Old Bailey on Monday that, due to the real risk of suicide, the 49-year-old should not be extradited by "reason of mental health".
Assange, who sat in the dock of Court 2 in a blue suit and wearing a green face mask below his nose, closed his eyes as the judge read out her ruling.
The 49-year-old faces an 18-count indictment, alleging a plot to hack computers and a conspiracy to obtain and disclose national defence information.
He is not expected to be freed from high-security Belmarsh Prison immediately as the US government are likely to appeal, but he can make a fresh application for bail.
The case follows WikiLeaks’s publication of hundreds of thousands of leaked documents in 2010 and 2011 relating to the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, as well as diplomatic cables.
Prosecutors claim Assange helped US defence analyst Chelsea Manning breach the Espionage Act by obtaining material, was complicit in hacking by others, and published classified information that put the lives of US informants in danger.
Assange denies plotting with Manning to crack an encrypted password on US Department of Defense computers and says there is no evidence anyone’s safety was put at risk.
Assange’s lawyers have said he faces up to 175 years in jail if convicted, although the US government said the sentence was more likely to be between four and six years.
Kristinn Hrafnsson, WikiLeaks editor-in-chief, said: "The mere fact that this case has made it to court let alone gone on this long is an historic, large-scale attack on freedom of speech.
"The US Government should listen to the groundswell of support coming from the mainstream media editorials, NGOs around the world such as Amnesty and Reporters Without Borders and the United Nations who are all calling for these charges to be dropped.
"This is a fight that affects each and every person’s right to know and is being fought collectively."
However, the judge rejected the defence arguments of freedom of speech and that the prosecution was politically motivated in her ruling.
She said: "If the allegations are proved then the agreement with Ms Manning and other groups of computer hackers took him outside any role of investigative journalism.
"He was acting to further the overall objective of WikiLeaks to obtain protected information by hacking, if necessary."
Assange has been held in high security Belmarsh prison since he was carried out of the Ecuadorian embassy in London by police before being arrested for breaching his bail conditions in April 2019.
He had entered the building in 2012 after exhausting all legal avenues to avoid extradition to Sweden to face sex offence allegations, which he has always denied and were eventually dropped.
Assange’s legal team claimed the prosecution under Mr Trump’s administration was politically motivated after an investigation launched during Barack Obama’s presidency failed to bring charges.
During his 2016 election campaign against Hillary Clinton, Mr Trump said "I love WikiLeaks" after the website published Russia-hacked Democratic National Committee (DNC) emails.
Assange’s extradition hearing was told he was offered a pardon in August 2017, allegedly on behalf of the US president, in exchange for identifying the source of the emails.
The Old Bailey heard evidence Assange has been diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome and psychiatrists for the defence said he suffers from severe depression and is a high suicide risk.
A bail hearing is expected shortly.