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U.S. says Assange could go to Australian prison if convicted

U.S. prosecutors have indicted Assange on 17 espionage fees and one cost of pc misuse over WikiLeaks’ publication of 1000’s of leaked navy and diplomatic paperwork. The costs carry a most sentence of 175 years in prison, though Lewis mentioned “the longest sentence ever imposed for this offense is 63 months.”

Lewis mentioned American authorities had promised that Assange wouldn’t be held earlier than trial in a top-security “Supermax” prison or subjected to strict isolation situations, and if convicted can be allowed to serve his sentence in Australia. Lewis mentioned the assurances “are binding on the US.”

“As soon as there’s an assurance of acceptable medical care, as soon as it’s clear he will likely be repatriated to Australia to serve any sentence, then we will safely say the district decide wouldn’t have determined the related query in the best way that she did,” he mentioned.

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The U.S. additionally says a key protection witness, neuropsychiatrist Michael Kopelman, misled the earlier decide by omitting to point out that Stella Moris, a member of WikiLeaks’ authorized staff, was additionally Assange’s companion and had two kids with him. Lewis mentioned that info was “a extremely related issue to the query of probability to suicide.”

Assange’s lawyer, Edward Fitzgerald, accused U.S. legal professionals of searching for to “decrease the severity of Mr Assange’s psychological dysfunction and suicide threat.”

Fitzgerald mentioned in a written submission that Australia has not but agreed to take Assange if he’s convicted. Even if Australia did agree, Fitzgerald mentioned the U.S. authorized course of could take a decade, “throughout which Mr. Assange will stay detained in excessive isolation in a U.S. prison.”

Assange, who’s being held at London’s high-security Belmarsh Prison, had been anticipated to attend the two-day listening to by video hyperlink, however Fitzgerald mentioned Assange had been placed on a excessive dose of treatment and “does not really feel ready to attend.”

Assange later appeared on the video hyperlink at instances, seated at a desk in a prison room carrying a black face masks.

Since WikiLeaks started publishing labeled paperwork greater than a decade in the past, Assange has turn out to be a flashpoint determine. Some see him as a harmful secret-spiller who endangered the lives of informers and others who helped the U.S. in conflict zones. Others say WikiLeaks shone a light-weight on official malfeasance that governments would love to preserve secret.

American prosecutors say Assange unlawfully helped U.S. Military intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning steal labeled diplomatic cables and navy recordsdata that WikiLeaks later printed. Legal professionals for Assange argue that he was performing as a journalist and is entitled to First Modification freedom of speech protections for publishing paperwork that uncovered U.S. navy wrongdoing in Iraq and Afghanistan.

A number of dozen pro-Assange protesters held a boisterous rally outdoors London’s neo-Gothic Royal Courts of Justice on Wednesday, calling the prosecution politically motivated. They urged U.S. President Joe Biden to drop the authorized proceedings, which have been begun beneath his predecessor, Donald Trump.

The demonstrators included Chinese language dissident artist Ai Weiwei, who mentioned Assange’s case “relates to our society, it relates to our freedom of expression, it relates to our particular person human rights, and we now have to watch the federal government.”

WikiLeaks supporters say testimony from witnesses throughout the extradition listening to that Assange was spied on whereas in Ecuador’s embassy in London by a Spanish safety agency on the behest of the CIA — and that there was even speak of abducting or killing him — undermines U.S. claims he will likely be handled pretty.

The 2 justices listening to the attraction — one is England’s most senior decide, Lord Chief Justice Ian Burnett — will not be anticipated to give their ruling for a number of weeks. The shedding facet could search to attraction to the U.Ok. Supreme Court docket.

Assange, 50, has been in prison since he was arrested in April 2019 for skipping bail throughout a separate authorized battle. Earlier than that he spent seven years holed up inside Ecuador’s London embassy, the place he fled in 2012 to keep away from extradition to Sweden to face allegations of rape and sexual assault.

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Sweden dropped the intercourse crimes investigations in November 2019 as a result of a lot time had elapsed. The decide who blocked extradition in January ordered that he should keep in custody throughout any U.S. attraction, ruling that the Australian citizen “has an incentive to abscond” if he’s freed.

Outdoors courtroom, Moris mentioned it was “fully unthinkable that the U.Ok. courts could agree” to extradition.

“I hope the courts will finish this nightmare, that Julian is in a position to come house quickly and that sensible heads prevail,” she mentioned.

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