British Judge Rejects Julian Assange’s Request To Delay Hearing On Extradition To U.S.
Wikileaks founder Julian Assange appeared in a London court for a hearing on Wednesday. The case is in connection with a U.S. government request that Assange be extradited to the U.S. and face charges of co-conspiring along with former U.S. army intelligence officer Chelsea Manning to illegally hack into a Pentagon computer. The British Government’s former Home Secretary Sajid Javid signed an order in June, which allowed Assange to be extradited to the U.S.
The court will now rule on the extradition request by the U.S. At the time of the case hearing, a throng of supporters gathered outside the courthouse and the viewing gallery. Assange and his team of defense lawyers have asserted that he is a journalist, who has First Amendment rights to free speech. Assange has also been accused of espionage by the U.S. government. He was being held in Belmarsh Prison, outside London, awaiting the extradition hearing.
The judge refused the plea of Assange’s defense team to allow him more time to prepare for the case.
When Assange was asked by the judge if he understood the proceedings, he said no. He claimed he was confused and could not understand why the U.S. government, the world’s most powerful government, could take ten years to prepare the case while he could not be given more time to consult his writings. The judge fixed the date of February 25 to be the start of the case hearing. The case is expected to last for several months with opportunities for appeals.