WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange tried to contact the White House and Hillary Clinton to warn them that the unredacted US diplomatic cables were about to be published online, his lawyer told the court during the extradition hearing on February 25. US authorities claim that publishing unredacted classified documents put informants, journalists and human rights activists at risk of torture, abuse or death.
The lawyer representing the United States for Assange’s extradition argued that the whistleblower’s action put the lives of people from Iraq, Iran, and Afghanistan, who helped the US, in danger. Assange, who is kept in a maximum-security prison in southeast London, is fighting an extradition request from the United States on the charges of violating the Espionage Act and conspiring to hack into classified government documents.
Assange was charged on a single count of computer intrusion but later 17 counts were added including charges of espionage for encouraging, receiving and publishing national defence information in cahoots with former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning. Calling it “lies, lies and more lies”, Assange’s defence lawyer Mark Summers dismissed the claims that his client “knowingly” put lives in danger by helping Manning to break password and encouraging the theft of classified documents.
The whistleblower spent seven years in Ecuador’s Embassy to avoid extradition to Sweden over sex crime allegations but was dragged out by the police in April last year following a request from the United States. After deteriorating health condition, he was moved out of the solitary confinement and his health has shown improvement since then, informed the whistleblower’s spokesperson Kristinn Hrafnsson last week.
In January, Assange’s lawyer had lamented that his client was not getting enough time with the legal team to discuss the case regarding extradition case. Assange’s lawyer Gareth Peirce reportedly told a British court that the difficulty in getting time with the whistleblower is causing delays in the case.
(With inputs from agencies)