Julian Assange has rejected this Monday once again his extradition to the United States after being detained for the second time under a new surrender request made by Washington at the last minute, in which he broadens the basis of his accusations against the founder of WikiLeaks.
Dressed in a suit and with his white hair very short, Assange, present in room 10 of the Old Bailey criminal court in London, has agreed to confirm his identity and that he refuses to be extradited to US soil, where he faces 18 counts of espionage and conspiracy for computer intrusion punished there with up to 175 years in prison.
In the first hearing of this phase of the trial – postponed in February due to the pandemic – Judge Vanessa Baraitser has rejected the defense request to “exclude” from the process the “new criminal conduct” or additional criminal acts attributed to the Australian by the US Justice in the indictment issued surprisingly in June and formalized in August.
This order, which supports the new extradition request, maintains the 18 charges charged in April 2019, but especially extends the intrusion, which now contemplates not only deals with former US soldier Chelsea Manning in 2010, but also with other people with whom Assange would have conspired between 2009 and 2015 to spread secrets on his digital portal.
Postponement, ruled out
The defense, led on Monday by Mark Summers, has argued that due to the late presentation of the car, it did not have material time to deal with the new allegations and ruled out asking for a postponement in order not to lengthen the process for his client -who is in preventive detention-, hence he asked for his exclusion.
By refusing to leave out the new allegations, Baraitser has said that if the defense rejected the option of postponement, his only option was refute each of the crimes charged with their respective “behaviors” during the process.
After resolving this point, it is expected that the defense will call this afternoon to testify its first witness, who will try to show that the US accusations against Assange have “political motivations” and his extradition would constitute an “abuse of process”.
The Prosecutor’s Office, represented this Monday by Joel Smith, considers instead that it is a case of “pure criminality”.
Espionage and fraud crimes
The United States aims to prosecute the 49-year-old computer scientist for 17 crimes under its espionage law and one for the law on computer fraud and abuse, especially for the dissemination in 2010 and 2011 (although now extending the period from 2009 to 2015) of military records and other confidential documents.
The revelations on WikiLeaks exposed war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan, files on extrajudicial detentions at the Guantanamo prison and diplomatic cables that unveiled human rights abuses around the world.