LONDON (Reuters) – WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange informed a London court docket on Thursday his work had protected “many individuals” and refused to conform to be extradited to america to face trial for one of many largest compromises of labeled info in historical past.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange leaves Southwark Crown Court docket after being sentenced in London, Britain, Could 1, 2019. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls
America has requested the extradition of Assange, who was dragged from the Ecuadorean Embassy in London on April 11, and has charged him with conspiracy to commit pc intrusion which carries a most penalty of 5 years.
Requested at a preliminary listening to at Westminster Magistrates’ Court docket whether or not he agreed to be extradited to america, Assange, showing by way of a video hyperlink from a British jail, mentioned: “I don’t want to give up for extradition. I’m a journalist profitable many, many awards and defending many individuals.”
Assange made worldwide headlines in early 2010 when WikiLeaks printed a labeled U.S. army video exhibiting a 2007 assault by Apache helicopters in Baghdad that killed a dozen individuals, together with two Reuters information workers.
To some, Assange is a hero for exposing what supporters forged as abuse of energy by trendy states and for championing free speech. To others, he’s a harmful insurgent who has undermined U.S. safety.
On Wednesday, he was sentenced to 50 weeks in jail by a British court docket for skipping bail after fleeing to Ecuador’s Embassy in London, the place he remained for seven years till police dragged him out final month.
Assange had sought refuge within the embassy in June 2012 to keep away from extradition to Sweden to face an allegation of rape, which he denies, saying he feared he can be despatched to america to face motion over the WikiLeaks’ launch of labeled U.S. diplomatic cables.
Hours after his arrest final month, U.S. prosecutors mentioned they’d charged Assange with conspiracy in attempting to entry a labeled U.S. authorities pc.
“The cost pertains to one of many largest compromises of labeled info within the historical past of america,” mentioned Ben Brandon, the lawyer representing america.
He mentioned in early 2010, former U.S. Military intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning had downloaded 90,000 exercise experiences referring to the Afghan warfare, 400,000 referring to the battle in Iraq, 800 Guantanamo Bay detainee evaluation briefs and 250,000 U.S. diplomatic cables.
The overwhelming majority of those had been later launched on WikiLeaks.
“NOT ABOUT HACKING”
There have been pc room chats exhibiting real-time discussions between Manning and Assange over cracking a password to achieve entry to labeled U.S. paperwork and the general public launch of the knowledge, Brandon mentioned.
“Regardless of what you heard from the prosecutor within the courtroom at present, this case isn’t about hacking,” Assange’s lawyer Jennifer Robinson mentioned exterior court docket.
“This case is a few journalist and a writer who had conversations with a supply about accessing materials, inspired that supply to offer materials and spoke to that supply about how one can defend their identification. That is protected exercise that journalists interact in on a regular basis.”
She mentioned the motion towards him had been launched underneath former U.S. President Barack Obama and aggressively pursued by the administration of Donald Trump.
The case was adjourned till Could 30 for a procedural listening to with a extra substantial listening to deliberate for June 12. The total extradition listening to was some months away, Decide Michael Snow informed the court docket.
Reporting by Michael Holden; writing by Man Faulconbridge; Enhancing by Alistair Smout and Janet Lawrence