Julian Assange extradition hearing resumes in London

Husband of Assange's Judge Linked to UK Lobby Group Critical of Wiki Leaks Founder Reports Say

Husband of Assange's Judge Linked to UK Lobby Group Critical of Wiki Leaks Founder Reports Say

Julian Assange's partner, lawyer Stella Moris, on Monday delivered a petition with almost 80,000 signatures calling for the release of the WikiLeaks founder. "Which means that in our democracy the British public now can not officially handover any petition to our government", Ms Vincent told Sputnik.

The 48-year-old Australian spoke to confirm his name and date of birth, and said he did not consent to extradition. He wore a dark suit, white shirt and maroon tie, with glasses perched atop his neatly trimmed white hair.

"Julian Assange is the trigger, he is shining the light on all the corruption in the world", Westwood said.

If convicted, he could be jailed for up to 175 years.

USA authorities accuse Australian-born Assange, 49, of conspiring to hack government computers and of violating an espionage law in connection with the release of confidential cables by WikiLeaks in 2010-2011.

Assange, who has spent nearly a year and a half in a British prison, sat in the dock at the Old Bailey criminal court and formally refused the USA demand he be extradited to face trial on espionage charges. He has been presented with a new, wider superseding indictment issued by USA authorities in June, which contains 18 alleged offences of conspiring to hack government computers and espionage. James Lewis, representing the U.S. government, said WikiLeaks was responsible for "one of the largest compromises of classified information in the history of the United States".

Assange's father John Shipton told supporters that "the malice that constantly falls like a Niagara upon Julian is just appalling, and indicates to us that the administration of justice here is enfeebled".

Assange, who his supporters see as a figurehead for press freedom and investigative journalism, had a "very strong defense", said Rees, who expressed concern that the case had become "highly politicized".

Supporters of Assange see him as a champion of free speech who exposed abuses of power within in the US government.

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The files released by Wikileaks included a video of a 2007 Apache helicopter attack by American forces in Baghdad that killed 11, including two Reuters journalists.

Assange's legal travails in Britain date to 2010, when he began fighting an attempt to extradite him to Sweden to answer questions about allegations of sexual assault, which have since been dropped. He remains jailed pending the outcome of the US extradition request.

Mr Assange was carried out of the embassy by British police officers in April 2019 after his relationship with the authorities in Ecuador soured with a change of president.

Swedish prosecutors confirmed a year ago they had dropped the rape investigation, saying that despite a "credible" account from the alleged victim there was insufficient evidence to proceed.

The hearing is expected to start at 0830 hrs (GMT).

Journalism organizations and human rights groups have called on Britain to refuse the extradition request.

The hearing had been delayed due to the coronavirus lockdown. It is resuming with physical distancing measures in court and video feeds so that journalists and observers can watch remotely.

The hearing is expected to last weeks, until early October, with a decision about a month later.

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