The partner of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has spoken of her "huge disappointment" as hopes for his freedom were dashed despite a decision to block his extradition to the United States.

Mr Assange had applied for bail on strict conditions so he could be reunited with Stella Moris and their two young sons in London.

But Judge Vanessa Baraitser, speaking in Westminster Magistrates' Court, refused to release the 49-year-old over fears he would abscond.

It follows her decision on Monday that he should not be extradited to the US on mental health grounds due to the risk of suicide.

Mr Assange will have to remain at Belmarsh jail while the US government appeals against the extradition ruling.

Speaking outside Westminster Magistrates' Court, Ms Moris said: "This is a huge disappointment. Julian should not be in Belmarsh prison in the first place.

"I urge the (US) Department of Justice to drop the charges and the president of the United States to pardon Julian."

WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Kristinn Hrafnsson said the decision to refuse bail would be appealed.

He said: "We think it is unjust and unfair, and illogical when you consider her (the judge's) ruling two days ago about Julian's health, which of course is caused a large part because he is being held in Belmarsh prison.

"To send him back there doesn't make any sense.

"This denial of bail will, in most likelihood, be appealed to the High Court within hours or a few days and we expect this to be overturned, because frankly it doesn't make any sense from any point of view."

Court artist sketch by Elizabeth Cook of Julian Assange appearing at the Old Bailey in London

He added: "If the opposition will appeal, they will be met. We will still want the President of the United States, both the one soon leaving office and the one coming in, to consider a pardon. We want this to end, but we are confident that justice will prevail."

Announcing her bail decision earlier, Judge Baraitser said: "As a matter of fairness, the US must be allowed to challenge my decision, and if Mr Assange absconds during this process they will lose the opportunity to do so.

"Mr Assange still has a huge support network available to him should he again choose to go to ground."

On fears of Covid-19 spreading in Belmarsh prison, the judge added that the latest information demonstrated the facility was managing the health of inmates.

Judge Baraitser had reached her decision after hearing argument from Mr Assange's legal team for conditional bail amounting to an effective "house arrest", which was opposed by the US government.

Ed Fitzgerald QC, for Assange, told Judge Baraitser: "In essence, we say, your decision changes everything and it certainly changes any motive to abscond rather than to continue to pursue his remedies within this country and with confidence in the due process in this country.

"'I discharge you from this extradition request' should mean he should at least regain his conditional liberty."

The lawyer said Mr Assange wished for a "sheltered life" with his family, adding it would be his first opportunity to live with his young children since he took up residence at the Ecuadorian embassy.

A "significant number of responsible people" had offered "substantial sums" of money as surety for Assange, the court heard.

Mr Fitzgerald argued: "He can be put under house arrest but at least he will finally regain his liberty and be able to have the benefit of the long-awaited decision of this court."

But Clair Dobbin, for the US government, said that Julian Assange had "shown himself as capable of going to extraordinary lengths to avoid extradition".

Ms Dobbin told the court the history of Assange's case demonstrated that he "regards himself as above the law and no cost is too great, whether that cost be to himself or others".

"Given Mr Assange's conduct, there is no surety that would secure his attendance," she said.

Julian Assange has been held in Belmarsh high security jail since he was carried out of the Ecuadorian embassy in London by police before being arrested for breaching his bail conditions in April 2019.

WikiLeaks editor Kristinn Hrafnsson speaks to the media outside Westminster Magistrates' Court

He had entered the embassy 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.

Mr Assange is still wanted in the US on an 18-count indictment, alleging a plot to hack computers and a conspiracy to obtain and disclose national defence information.

Kristinn Hrafnsson, editor in chief of Wikileaks, told RTÉ earlier this week of his hopes that Julian Assange would be granted bail.

"Firstly because he has been a remand prisoner since for over 400 days when the guidelines state nobody in the UK should be kept on remand for more than 180 days.

"Secondly, Julian Assange has had a very tough time in Belmarsh and the judge cited mental health reasons in her judgment on Monday for refusing his extradition to the US.

"He is so cold in his cell he has to stack books against the window to try and stop freezing air coming in. Conditions are not good, he needs to get out."

Asked about Mr Assange breaking bail conditions back in 2012, Mr Hrafnsson replied: "Julian now has two young children and a partner Stella, who are all living in London.

"He has a longing to stay with his family. He is a very different man today."