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Dozens of pro-Assange protesters rallied outside London’s Royal Justice Courts before the hearing, which is scheduled to last two days.
On Wednesday, London’s Royal Justice Courts began to study the appeal filed by the U.S. government against the U.K. refusal to extradite Julian Assange, who is accused of publishing leaked documents that exposed U.S. military wrongdoing in Iraq and Afghanistan.
In January, British Central Criminal Court Judge Vanessa Baraitser denied the extradition request, arguing that Assange was likely to kill himself if held under harsh American prison conditions. Nevertheless, she rejected the defense arguments, which stressed that Assange faces a politically motivated U.S. prosecution that would override free-speech protections.
“The American judicial system would give him a fair trial,” Baraitser claimed. The United States accuse Assange of unlawfully helping U.S. Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning steal classified diplomatic cables and military files, which he later published in WikiLeaks.
Defense lawyers argued that Assange was entitled to First Amendment freedom of speech protections since he was exercising journalistic work. It is unthinkable that the U.K. High Court agrees to extradite him, Assange’s partner and WikiLeaks lawyer Stella Moris stated.
Where are all the specialized forces in #Haiti the US spent hundreds of millions of dollars to train? Why can't they mobilize to free the kidnapped christian missionaries? It's been a week and a half. Do they only exist to shoot protesters? There's a game being played here. pic.twitter.com/viSDpRMBcS
Before being arrested in April 2019, Assange spent seven years holed up inside Ecuador’s London embassy, to which he fled in 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he was charged with rape and sexual assault. Although the Swedish Justice dropped the sex crimes investigations in Nov. 2019, Assange remains in prison given that Baraitser ordered to put him in custody before the U.S. appeal. The activist has an “incentive to abscond” if he is freed, this judge claimed.
According to testimonies made during the Old Bailey hearing, a Spanish security firm and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) spied on Assange while he stayed in the Ecuadoran embassy. They even considered abducting or killing him if the extradition trial was delayed.
“These facts undermine the U.S. claims that Assange will be treated fairly by its justice system,” WikiLeaks supporters stressed and urged the U.K. to release him immediately.
When Paulo Guedes took office as Brazil's Finance Minister he announced a weak Real would be good for Brazil. It was 3.8/US$1 then. Now it's 5.48/US$1. Pandora Papers reveal he's made a fortune through this process. My commentary for @telesurenglish. pic.twitter.com/J6pgJz3I6j