(LONDON) — A British decide on Monday rejected a request by legal professionals for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to delay his extradition listening to till subsequent 12 months to present his legal professionals extra time to reply to U.S. allegations that he conspired with hackers to acquire categorised data.
The adjournment request got here on the primary day of a London court docket listening to the place Assange is combating American prosecutors’ try to ship him to the U.S. to face trial on spying fees.
U.S. prosecutors have indicted the 49-year-old Australian on 18 espionage and laptop misuse fees over WikiLeaks’ publication of secret U.S. navy paperwork a decade in the past. The costs carry a most sentence of 175 years in jail.
Assange’s legal professionals say the prosecution is a politically motivated abuse of energy that can stifle press freedom and put journalists all over the world in danger.
The U.S. Justice Division expanded its case towards Assange in a brand new indictment introduced in June, although it didn’t introduce new fees. However Assange lawyer Mark Summers mentioned it was “an unattainable job” for the authorized crew to take care of the brand new allegations in time for Monday’s court docket listening to, particularly since they’d solely “restricted entry” to the imprisoned Assange.
He mentioned District Choose Vanessa Baraitser ought to excise the brand new American claims, which he mentioned had been sprung on the protection “out of the blue.”
The decide rejected the request, saying the protection had declined an earlier alternative in August to postpone the listening to. The protection then requested for the case to be adjourned till January. Baraitser refused, saying Assange’s legal professionals had “ample time” earlier than Monday to specific their issues.
The case has already been held up for months due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Assange, who has spent 16 months in a British jail, sat within the dock on the Outdated Bailey legal court docket and formally refused the U.S. extradition demand. Assange, who legal professionals say has suffered bodily and psychological ill-health due to his ordeal, wore a go well with and tie and spoke clearly to verify his identify and date of start.
A number of dozen supporters, together with designer Vivienne Westwood and Assange’s associate, Stella Moris, gathered exterior the courthouse, chanting, banging drums and calling his prosecution a risk to press freedom.
“Julian Assange is the set off, he’s shining the sunshine on all of the corruption on the planet,” Westwood mentioned.
American authorities allege that Assange conspired with U.S. military intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to hack right into a Pentagon laptop and launch tons of of hundreds of secret diplomatic cables and navy recordsdata on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The brand new June indictment accuses Assange of recruiting hackers at conferences in Europe and Asia, recruiting a young person to hack into the pc of a former WikiLeaks affiliate and conspiring with members of hacking teams referred to as LulzSec and Nameless. U.S. prosecutors say the proof underscores Assange’s efforts to obtain and launch categorised data, allegations that type the idea of legal fees.
Assange’s legal professionals, nonetheless, argue that he’s a journalist entitled to First Modification safety and say the leaked paperwork uncovered U.S. navy wrongdoing. Among the many recordsdata launched by WikiLeaks was video of a 2007 Apache helicopter assault by American forces in Baghdad that killed 11 individuals, together with two Reuters journalists.
Assange’s authorized troubles started in 2010, when he was arrested in London on the request of Sweden, which wished to query him about allegations of rape and sexual assault made by two ladies. He refused to go to Stockholm, saying he feared extradition or unlawful rendition to america or to the U.S. jail camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
In 2012, Assange sought refuge contained in the Ecuadorian Embassy, the place he was past the attain of U.Okay. and Swedish authorities — but in addition successfully a prisoner, unable to go away the tiny diplomatic mission in London. The connection between Assange and his hosts finally soured, and he was evicted from the embassy in April 2019. British police instantly arrested him for leaping bail in 2012.
Sweden dropped the intercourse crimes investigations in November 2019 as a result of a lot time had elapsed, however Assange stays in London’s high-security Belmarsh Jail as he awaits the extradition determination.
Supporters say the ordeal has harmed Assange’s bodily and psychological well being, leaving him with melancholy, dental issues and a critical shoulder ailment. The listening to is predicted to incorporate knowledgeable psychiatric proof about his psychological state.
Journalism organizations and human rights teams have urged Britain to refuse the extradition request. Amnesty Worldwide mentioned Assange was “the goal of a unfavourable public marketing campaign by U.S. officers on the highest ranges.”
The extradition listening to opened in February however was placed on maintain when the U.Okay. went into lockdown in March to gradual the unfold of coronavirus. It’s resuming with social distancing measures in court docket and video feeds so journalists and observers can watch remotely.
The case is because of run till early October. The decide is predicted to take weeks and even months to think about her verdict, with the dropping facet prone to attraction.