Julian Assange’s extradition hearing began in the UK

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The WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, 49, has appeared at the Old Bailey at the start of an extradition hearing on an 18-count US indictment that accuses him of recruiting hackers to steal military secrets. The case is being heard at the Old Bailey in London with lawyers, observers and the media spread out across several other courts listening to proceedings via video link. Before coming into court, he had been formally rearrested on the new US indictment which updates and broadens previous charges. Asked whether he was prepared to consent to be extradited to the US, Assange replied: “No.”

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The indictment says Assange and WikiLeaks “repeatedly sought, obtained, and disseminated information that the United States classified due to the serious risk that unauthorised disclosure could harm the national security of the United States”. The two-part skeleton argument written by Edward Fitzgerald QC, representing Assange, runs to almost 200 pages. On the other part, it was said the defence was inaccurately “treating Assange as though he were engaged in reporting, in the same position of any journalist who comes into possession of classified information”. Assange’s defenders say that the prosecution was “being pursued for ulterior political motives and not in good faith”. „It constitutes an abuse of this court’s process to require this court to extradite on the basis of the Anglo-US treaty in breach of the treaty’s express provisions.” The hearing continues.