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The extradition of political prisioners to the U.S. is not permitted by the 2003 British-American treaty.
The charges brought by the United States against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange are purely political and the extradition to the U.S. is not permitted by law, the Australian journalist's defense said Wednesday.
Julian Assange, 48, could receive a sentence of up to 175 years in prison in the United States on charges of espionage and computer hacking, "but these crimes are purely political," the lawyer for Australian activist Edward Fitzgerald said during the third day of the extradition trial in London, United Kingdom.
"Assange's extradition to the United States would be a breach of the 2003 British-American treaty, which expressly prohibits surrender for 'crimes of a political nature'," Fitzgerald said at Woolwich Crown Court, in southeast London.
On the claim of breach of the extradition treaty with the United Kingdom, the defense of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange accused the United States of "abuse of process", by requesting his transfer for alleged espionage offenses.
"U.K.: Assange 'has become a political prisoner in this country' - Global campaign against the criminalization of investigative journalism Don't Extradite Assange."
Prosecutor James Lewis, who represents the United States in the case, said that "the crimes attributed to Assange are 'common crime' and not political."
Furthermore, he evaded prosecution by saying that "the request for extradition is not governed by the 2003 treaty, but by the British extradition law of the same year, which does not provide exemptions for political offenses."
The Australian activist, whose health has deteriorated after almost ten years in jail without being convicted of any crime, will continue the battle to prevent his extradition to the United States until this Friday, when the trial will be postponed until May 18.