Assange put lives at risk, lawyer for U.S. says in extradition hearing

LONDON — WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is sought after within the U.S. over the newsletter of labeled paperwork as a result of he put lives in peril, the attorney in a U.S. extradition listening to stated in a court in London on Monday.

U.S. government need to take a look at Assange on espionage fees that lift a most sentence of 175 years in jail over the 2010 newsletter of masses of hundreds of secret army paperwork and diplomatic cables.

The extradition listening to follows years of subterfuge, diplomatic dispute and felony drama that experience led the 48-year-old Australian from popularity as a world secret-spiller thru self-imposed exile within the Ecuadorian Embassy in London to incarceration in a maximum-security British jail.

Assange has been indicted within the U.S. on 18 fees over the newsletter of the paperwork. Prosecutors say he conspired with U.S. military intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to hack right into a Pentagon laptop and liberate masses of hundreds of secret diplomatic cables and armed forces information at the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Assange argues he used to be appearing as a journalist entitled to First Modification coverage, and says the leaked paperwork uncovered U.S. army wrongdoing. Some of the information printed via WikiLeaks used to be video of a 2007 Apache helicopter assault via American forces in Baghdad that killed 11 other people, together with two Reuters reporters.

Journalism organizations and civil liberties teams together with Amnesty Global and Journalists With out Borders say the costs towards Assange set a chilling precedent for freedom of the clicking.

Attorney James Lewis, representing the U.S. govt, stated it used to be now not the position of the British court docket to resolve whether or not Assange used to be responsible.

“That is an extradition listening to, now not an ordeal,” he stated. “The guilt or innocence of Mr. Assange will likely be decided at trial in america, now not on this court docket.”

Lewis stated Assange used to be responsible of “simple” criminality.

Style clothier Vivienne Westwood joins supporters outdoor Belmarsh Jail in London previous to the extradition listening to of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on Monday.Leon Neal / Getty Pictures

“What Mr. Assange seeks to protect via unfastened speech isn’t the newsletter of the labeled fabrics, however he seeks to protect the newsletter of resources — the names of people that put themselves in peril to help the U.S. and its allies,” the attorney stated.

“Reporting or journalism isn’t an excuse for felony actions or a license to damage strange felony rules.”

Supporters of Assange accumulated outdoor the high-security London courthouse, and may well be heard within the court as neatly. Some observers in an overflow room waved and blew kisses to Assange who used to be seated in the back of the court.

Previous, Assange entered the dock at Woolwich Crown Court docket’s court docket quantity 2, and spoke to verify his identify and date of beginning. He nodded in opposition to journalists prior to taking his seat.

Assange’s felony saga started in 2010, when he used to be arrested in London on the request of Sweden, which sought after to query him about allegations of rape and sexual attack made via two ladies. He refused to visit Stockholm, pronouncing he feared extradition or unlawful rendition to america or the U.S. jail camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

In 2012, Assange sought shelter within the Ecuadorian Embassy, the place he used to be past the achieve of U.Okay. and Swedish government.

For seven years Assange led an remoted and increasingly more surreal lifestyles within the tiny embassy, which occupies an rental in an upscale block close to the ritzy Harrod’s division retailer. The connection between Assange and his hosts sooner or later soured, and he used to be evicted in April 2019. British police straight away arrested him for leaping bail in 2012.

Sweden dropped the intercourse crimes investigations in November as a result of such a lot time had elapsed, however Assange stays in London’s Belmarsh Jail as he awaits a call at the U.S. extradition request.

For his supporters around the globe, Assange stays a hero. However many others are important of the best way WikiLeaks has printed labeled paperwork with out redacting main points that would endanger people. WikiLeaks has additionally been accused of serving as a conduit for Russian incorrect information, and Assange has alienated some supporters via dallying with populist politicians together with Brexit-promoter Nigel Farage.

An finish to the saga may nonetheless be years away. After every week of opening arguments, the extradition case is because of destroy till Might, when the 2 aspects will lay out their proof. The pass judgement on isn’t anticipated to rule till a number of months after that, with the dropping facet more likely to attraction.

If the courts approve extradition, the British govt may have the general say.

The case comes at refined time for transatlantic members of the family. The U.Okay. has left the Ecu Union and is eager to strike a business care for the U.S.

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