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Friday, 03 May 2019 12:39

Assange says he will fight US extradition request Featured

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The court where Julian Assange's extradition hearing took place on Thursday. The court where Julian Assange's extradition hearing took place on Thursday. Courtesy YouTube

WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange has told a court hearing in London that he is unwilling to surrender to be extradited to the US, just a day after he was jailed for 50 weeks for skipping bail in 2012.

Assange appeared through a video link and told the court: "I do not wish to surrender myself for extradition for doing journalism that has won many, many awards and protected many people," according to NPR.

The WikiLeaks founder was arrested by British police on 11 April after Ecuador withdrew its asylum and appeared in court shortly thereafter. He was found guilty of skipping bail and remanded to custody.

He had been wanted in Sweden for questioning on allegations of sexual assault which he has denied. But he has always maintained that he took refuge in the Ecuador embassy in London because he feared the US would try to extradite him to face charges over the release of thousands of documents relating to the US invasion of Iraq and the Afghanistan operation.

US Government lawyer Ben Brandon told the court on Thursday that Assange would face a prison term of five years if he was convicted.

He said the indictment was based on conversations between Assange and former US Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning.

The next hearings in the case are on 30 May and 12 June before which the full US extradition request will be provided to Assange's lawyers.

Swedish prosecutors have said they may reopen the case against Assange. Were that to happen, the UK would have to weight competing extradition requests from Sweden and the US.

EU criminal law expert Anna Bradshaw of Peters & Peters told NPR: "If Sweden were to make a competing extradition request then the home secretary here might choose to give that priority and that could mean that there is at best a delay to the US extradition request."

She said Assange's lawyers were concerned that he would not get a fair trial in the US.

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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