UK judge rejects Assange bid to delay U.S. extradition case

By Estelle Shirbon and Michael Holden LONDON (Reuters) - WikiLeaks' founder Julian Assange, who is fighting to avoid extradition to the United States from Britain, failed on Monday in a bid to further delay hearings that resumed after a pause of months caused by the coronavirus lockdown. The U.S

Reuters September 08, 2020 00:11:28 IST
UK judge rejects Assange bid to delay U.S. extradition case

UK judge rejects Assange bid to delay US extradition case

By Estelle Shirbon and Michael Holden

LONDON (Reuters) - WikiLeaks' founder Julian Assange, who is fighting to avoid extradition to the United States from Britain, failed on Monday in a bid to further delay hearings that resumed after a pause of months caused by the coronavirus lockdown.

The U.S. 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, clean-shaven and wearing a suit at Monday's hearing, formally declined to be extradited. He has been presented with a new, wider superseding indictment issued by U.S. authorities in June, which contains 18 alleged offences of conspiring to hack government computers and espionage.

The judge rejected his lawyers' application for the case to be adjourned until January to allow them more time to consider new U.S. accusations.

"We're simply not in a position to gather the evidence necessary and respond to the case that has only emerged in the last few weeks," Assange's lawyer Mark Summers said.

Assange is seen by his admirers as a champion of free speech who exposed U.S. abuses of power. His critics say that by publishing unredacted documents, he recklessly endangered the lives of intelligence sources.

Assange made international headlines in 2010 when WikiLeaks published a U.S. military video showing a 2007 attack by Apache helicopters in Baghdad that killed a dozen people, including two Reuters news staff. The site later published vast troves of U.S. military records and diplomatic cables.

More recently, it released documents stolen from the Democratic National Committee during the 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign. Assange denies accusations by U.S. investigators that it obtained those documents from Russian hackers, though the issue is not part of the legal proceedings.

"POLITICAL" CHARGES

The extradition hearings started in February but were then postponed for a few months before being further delayed because of a nationwide lockdown to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Assange's lawyers say he would not receive a fair trial in the United States on political charges.

In court papers, they wrote that the pursuit of Assange was part of President Donald Trump's "effective declaration of war on leakers and journalists".

The first witness, Mark Feldstein, a professor of journalism at the University of Maryland, told London's Old Bailey court that no publisher had been successfully prosecuted in the United States for publishing leaked confidential documents.

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.

In June 2012, he sought refuge in the Ecuadorean embassy. He spent seven years holed up there, fathering two children.

After Ecuador revoked his asylum, he was dragged out of the embassy in April 2019 and served a short British prison sentence for violating bail terms. He remains jailed pending the outcome of the U.S. extradition request.

(Editing by Peter Graff)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Updated Date:

TAGS:

also read

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources
| Reuters
World

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources | Reuters

By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States

China's Xi says navy should become world class
| Reuters
World

China's Xi says navy should become world class | Reuters

BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.