The US government has made a late request to have Julian Assange extradited based on a new indictment, prosecutor Claire Dobbin told Westminster magistrates’ court at yesterday’s hearing. Washington is seeking to expand the charges against him, including by extending the group of people he is alleged to have conspired with beyond former US army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning,
Julian Assange appeared at a further administrative hearing at Westminster Crown Court, London on 27 July via video link, the first time since 7 April when he was last seen in court. The conference call was organised after delay, due to failure of Belmarsh prison to arrange the appearance, and only after his lawyers protested his absence. Judge Baraitser said as the new substances of the case weren’t being discussed, Assange didn’t need to appear via videolink from Belmarsh prison, although last month she ordered him to appear unless he had a medical reason not to.
It was Julian Assange’s 49th birthday on 3 July. He did not have much to celebrate being incarcerated in in the high-security HMP Belmarsh for more than a year facing extradition to the United States where he has been indicted under the Espionage Act for Wikileaks’ 2010-11 publications of the Iraq War Logs, the Afghan War Diaries, and State Department cables. But he would have cheered to know that on that day 40 press freedom groups and journalist organisations wrote to the Rt Hon Robert Buckland QC MP Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor (with a copy to Dominic Raab MP Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs) calling for the British Government to release the Wikileaks founder and to block his extradition to the US. The charges against Julian carry a potential maximum sentence of 175 years in prison.