Julian Assange denied delay to extradition hearing
Assange appeared in person at Westminster Magistrates court on Monday for a case management hearing on his extradition to the United States.
The Australian is battling multiple charges, including 17 new counts under the Espionage Act in May this year, for unlawfully encouraging, receiving and publishing national defense information in concert with former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning.
UK District Judge Vanessa Baraitser denied Assange’s legal team request to delay proceedings and timetable by three months, confirming that the full extradition hearing will still go ahead in late February.
Defense lawyer Mark Summers had argued that his team needed more time to gather and provide all the evidence needed.
Assange struggled to give his name and date of birth at the beginning of the hearing, making long pauses and mumbling some words.
When the case was adjourned and judge Baraitser asked the WikiLeaks founder if he understood what was happening, Assange replied: “What is happening? Not really.”
The Wikileaks founder complained to the judge that he doesn’t have access to any of his writings or legal documents at Belmarsh prison.
“I can’t think properly” he said.
WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Kristinn Hrafnsson told journalists outside the court they were disappointed with the judge’s refusal to delay the timetable for the case. Hrafnsson reiterated that Assange’s extradition request to the United States is politically motivated.
“This is a political offence, it’s undeniable a political prosecution and Julian Assange is a political prisoner” he told CNN.
Dozens of protesters gathered outside the court early Monday morning in support for Assange.