The founder of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange appeared in court on October 21 to oppose his extradition to the United States on the charges of espionage asking for more time in order to prepare his case. However, Assange's legal team headed by Lawyer Mark Summers failed to convince the District Judge Vanessa Baraitser to justify the slowdown. Thus, the hearing is still set for a five-day hearing in February 2020. Brief interim hearings will also be held in November and December.
Assange fueled anger among the protestors who 'say no extradition' and also flooded the streets in front of the public gallery in Westminster Magistrates Court. According to reports, WikiLeaks' founder had lost weight but looked healthy admitted that he can not think properly after the judge denied his request. He wore a navy suit for the hearing and was reportedly speaking softly and at times was also looked to be near tears. Moreover, Assange claimed to have not understood the proceedings in the court. Protesters jammed the area including the former London Mayor Ken Livingstone and stood in support of Assange as he went back to Belmarsh prison after the hearing.
According to Assange the case inequitable as the US government has unlimited resources in their favour while he is struggling for sufficient access to his lawyers or to documents which are essential to prepare his fight against the extradition because of being confined to the prison on the outskirts of London. The 48-year-old journalist said that “they all have advantages”. Summers even told the judge that more time was required to prepare against the “unprecedented” use of espionage charges against Assange. According to the lawyer, their case has a cluster of facets which will require a heavy amount of planning as well as preparation.
Former Home Secretary Sajid Javid had signed an order in June which allowed Assange to be extradited after being accused of scheming with the former Army intelligence analyst, Chelsea Manning to crack a password to acquire a classified government computer. However, Assange claims to be a journalist who is entitled to First Amendment protection. The full hearing in which Assange's legal team believes that five days will not be enough will be heard at Belmarsh court.
(With AP inputs)