Assange loses court bid to delay extradition hearing, after arguing he needs more time to prepare defence
Wikileaks co-founder Julian Assange has this week appeared in court in a failed attempt to delay his extradition hearing to the United States.
The US Justice Department had filed 17 new charges against Assange in May, accusing him of violating the Espionage Act after he received (from Chelsea Manning) and unlawfully published the names of classified sources.
Those new US charges are extremely serious for Assange, as he had originally been facing roughly five years in prison in the US on the original conspiracy to commit computer intrusion charge.
But now many of these new charges could each entail jail terms of five to 10 years, meaning Assange could face decades in prison if convicted.
In June then Home Secretary Sajid Javid signed a US request for Julian Assange to be extradited to America.
This week Assange was at Westminster Magistrates’ Court, where his lawyers asked for more time “to gather evidence” but District Judge Vanessa Baraitser refused and said a full extradition hearing will begin on 25 February.
According to the BBC, Assange, aged 48, mumbled and paused as he gave his own name and date of birth in court.
Assange reportedly appeared frail, and apparently found it hard to remember when he was born.
Last month supporter and former Baywatch star Pamela Anderson warned that the health of Assange is causing concern. She said that said that his life “was at risk” and he is “unhealthy” in captivity.
In May this year Assange was too ill to appear via video link in a court room hearing to discuss his extradition to the United States. He had reportedly been moved to the hospital wing of the Belmarsh high security prison in London.
When his extradition case was adjourned, the Australian reportedly complained that he had not understood proceedings, and said: “This is not equitable.”
“I can’t research anything, I can’t access any of my writing. It’s very difficult where I am,” he reportedly said. He apparently told the judge he is up against a “superpower” with “unlimited resources” and that he “can’t think properly”.
Assange’s lawyer released a statement setting out their case, as Assange returned to Belmarsh prison where he is currently serving a 50 week sentence for breaching the Bail Act.
This is because Assange had fled to the Ecuadorian Embassy in Knightsbridge in June 2012, after he lost his final plea to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he had faced allegations of raping a woman and sexually molesting and coercing another in Stockholm in August 2010.
Those charges were dropped in 2015, but now Swedish authorities are once again seeking his extradition, after they reopened an investigation into the 2010 rape allegation.
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