U.S. authorities hope Assange to be extradited to its territory to stand trial on 18 espionage and computer misuse charges, over the activities of his WikiLeaks website.
If the court finds him guilty of the charges, the 49-year-old Australian could face a sentence of 175 years in prison. On top of that, the journalist's cohort denounced that his physical condition has deteriorated due to alleged episodes of psychological torture.
Besides being accused of conspiring to hack U.S. government’s computers, Assange is charged with conspiring to obtain and disclose national defense information.
This broke my heart
The effects of prolonged isolation, medical neglect & psychological torture on my son, persecuted journalist #JulianAssange
The hearings could last up to four weeks and will be marked by demonstrations in support of Assange at the gates of the London Courthouse, under the slogan "Do not extradite Assange, journalism is not a crime."
"Journalists and whistle-blowers who reveal illegal activity by companies or governments and war crimes, such as the publications Julian has been charged for, should be protected from prosecution," Assange's attorney Jennifer Robinson said.
The defense of the Australian journalist is trying to challenge Washington’s attempt to extradite him, claiming that a trial in the U.S. is an abuse of authority with political overtones and that something like that will stifle press freedom and put journalists at risk.