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19 Dec, 2019 15:19

Assange CANNOT be extradited because of treaty between US-UK argues legal team

Assange CANNOT be extradited because of treaty between US-UK argues legal team

Lawyers for journalist and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange will argue that a treaty between the US and UK explicitly bans extradition for political offenses when his hearing begins in early 2020.

Assange faces 18 counts in the US including conspiracy to hack government computers and violating espionage laws with a possible penalty of decades in prison. His full extradition hearing is scheduled to begin on February 24, 2020 and his defense team have made clear their intention to fight his extradition using any and all means at their disposal.

“We say that there is in the treaty a ban on being extradited for a political offense and these offenses as framed and in substance are political offenses,” Assange's lawyer Edward Fitzgerald told London's Westminster Magistrates' Court. 

Assange's defense lawyers will also submit medical evidence, public comments made by US officials and details from the Chelsea Manning case to fight the WikiLeaks founder's extradition to the US and are also expected to call up to 21 witnesses to testify. Manning is currently in prison for contempt of court after she refused to testify before a federal grand jury seeking to level additional charges against WikiLeaks and Julian Assange.

Also on rt.com Assange lawyer discloses conditions for British justice TO RETHINK his extradition

Assange appeared via video link but the whistleblower is due to make an in-person appearance in court tomorrow to answer questions from a Spanish judge in relation to “revelations about bugging of conversations with his lawyers” during his prolonged seven-year exile at the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where he sought asylum to avoid extradition to Sweden for allegations of rape which have subsequently been dropped. 

He was unceremoniously dragged from the embassy in April after the Ecuadorian government reneged on its promise of asylum and removed political protections which had hitherto prevented British authorities from arresting him.

Assange’s full extradition hearing is expected to last up to four weeks owing to the trove of evidence due to be presented in his defense. 

“My impression was the [US] government was anxious for this case to remain on track and not to be derailed,” Judge Vanessa Baraitser rebuked the lawyers representing the US government after they sought a delay until April. 

Baraitser added that the next hearing will take place on January 23 and the timetable would go ahead as planned.

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