“#Julian Assange re-arrested in court prior to losing extradition bid”
September 7, 2020 | 2:41pm | Updated September 7, 2020 | 2:45pm
The 49-year-old WikiLeaks founder, clean-shaven and wearing a suit, was re-arrested in the cells of London’s top criminal court early Monday while awaiting his appearance to try to fight extradition, Sky News reported.
The fresh arrest means he now formally faces the new indictment announced in June that broadens “the scope of the conspiracy” that could see him sentenced to 175 years in prison if convicted.
The wider-reaching indictment accuses him of recruiting a 17-year-old hacker as well as working with shady online groups like Anonymous and LulzSec.
After his re-arrest, Assange appeared in the Old Bailey courtroom, where he spoke only to confirm his name and say he “does not consent to extradition” to Virginia, according to Sky.
His lawyer, Mark Summers QC, complained that the “fresh allegations at the 11th hour” gave the legal team no time to adequately prepare.
“What is happening is abnormal, unfair and liable to create injustice if allowed to continue,” Summers told the court, complaining they were getting “limited access” to the imprisoned Assange, the outlet reported.
Summers accused US prosecutors of filing the new indictment “in desperation” because “they knew that they would lose” with their existing case.
However, Judge Vanessa Baraitser refused to exclude the new indictment — and rejected an application to adjourn until January the hearing that had already been delayed over the coronavirus pandemic.
Instead, the extradition case will continue, and is due to run until early October. The judge is expected to take weeks or even months to consider her verdict, with the losing side likely to appeal.
James Lewis, a lawyer representing the US government, reaffirmed the “harm and the risk of harm” Assange’s massive document dump posed, the Times of London said.
He also dismissed Assange’s claims that his mental health issues meant he should be freed from jail rather than extradited to face trial.
“Neither mental health problems, nor Asperger syndrome prevented Assange’s solicitation of, and orchestration of, the leaking of materials from the highest levels of government and state agencies, apparently on a global scale,” Lewis said, according to the UK Times.
US prosecutors have indicted Assange — who has already spent 16 months in a British prison — on 18 espionage and computer misuse charges over WikiLeaks’ publication of secret military documents.
Several dozen supporters, including fashion designer Vivienne Westwood and Assange’s partner, Stella Moris, gathered outside the courthouse, chanting, banging drums and calling his prosecution a threat to press freedom.
“Julian Assange is the trigger, he is shining the light on all the corruption in the world,” Westwood said.
With Post wires
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