WikiLeaks took "extreme measures" to redact sensitive names before releasing thousands of secret US military files on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, Julian Assange's extradition trial has heard.
The US wants to extradite Assange from the UK to face one charge of conspiring to commit computer intrusion and 17 of violating the Espionage Act and argue he knowingly endangered the lives of informants.
Lawyers for the US government say the WikiLeaks founder knowingly put lives of informants at risk with his organisation's releases, and that sources disappeared afterwards.
But Assange's barrister Mark Summers said Assange's organisation withheld the release of 20 per cent of the Afghan War Diary and fully redacted the Iraq War Diary in 2010 to protect the names within.
Der Speigel investigative journalist John Goetz described WikiLeaks' redactions as "extreme" at the time, Summers told the hearing at London's Woolwich Crown Court on Tuesday.
"These were more extreme measures than I had ever previously observed as a journalist to secure the data and ensure they could not be accessed by anyone who was not a journalist," Summers said, reading a statement from Goetz to the court.
WikiLeaks' redactions also came after Assange had been told by his source, former US Army intelligence analyst Bradley Manning, that the material had been "sanitised".
The barrister said Manning believed the material was "historical and non-sensitive" as it contained no sensitive names of people.
Summers also argued there had been an abuse of process because the US extradition request failed to accurately state the correct offence and sentence faced by Assange, and his alleged conduct.
Earlier, Summers has told the hearing that thousands of classified US diplomatic files obtained by WikiLeaks were only made public after the password to unlock the trove was published in a book.
British journalists David Leigh and Luke Harding published the password in their book WikiLeaks: Inside Julian Assange's War on Secrecy in 2011.
"Far from being a reckless, un-redacted release ... what actually occurred is that one of the media partners published a book in February 2011, the password to the un-redacted materials in a book, which then allowed the world to publish those un-redacted materials," Summers said in court.
"The gates got opened, not by Mr Assange or WikiLeaks."
Assange, 48, is facing a hearing to decide whether he should be extradited to the US to face 17 charges of violating the US Espionage Act and one of conspiring to commit computer intrusion.
The US government says the release of the files was reckless and that Assange knowingly put the lives of sources at risk
But Summers said WikiLeaks had initially been very cautious about releasing the files and reached out to newspapers including The Guardian, Der Speigel, Le Monde, El Pais and the New York Times.
He said they worked out a process of redaction together and the media partners had even run the redactions by representatives of the US government and the US State Department.
"The State Department initially had an active participation in the redaction process," Summers said.
German outlet Der Freitag announced they also had the password, while websites Cryptome and PirateBay published it alongside the un-redacted files.
WikiLeaks repeatedly tried to warn the US State Department and the US embassy about a possibly impending leak, Summers said.
He said Assange phoned the State Department and urged them to step up their warnings to informants named in the material.
"I don't understand why you can't see this is an emergency, unless we do something, people's lives will be put at risk," Summers quoted Assange as saying in the call.
"The notion that Mr Assange knowingly put lives at risk by dumping un-redacted cables is knowingly inaccurate," he said.
Summers also explained that US Army intelligence analyst Bradley Manning, who provided the documents to Assange, indicated the material was not captioned "no diss", meaning "no dissolution".
Manning indicated to Assange that the files were available to "a wide number of individuals" and there was no genuinely sensitive files in his releases to WikiLeaks.
Summers said Assange had never solicited Manning for diplomatic cables as they were not on WikiLeak's "most wanted list".
Earlier in proceedings the court has heard Assange is having case files confiscated and being "stripped naked" by prison guards.
Defence barrister Edward Fitzgerald told the Woolwich Crown Court on Tuesday that the WikiLeaks founder has been handcuffed 11 times, stripped naked twice and put in five separate holding cells.
Assange, 48, is facing 17 charges of violating the US Espionage Act and one of conspiring to commit computer intrusion over leaking and publishing thousands of classified US diplomatic and military files in 2010.
Mr Fitzgerald said the case files, which the Australian was busy reading in court on Monday, were confiscated by guards when he returned to prison later that night.
He asked the judge to consider Assange's treatment, as it was harming his "right to a fair trial".
"So as not to impinge on the defendant's ability to participate on these proceedings," he told the court.
Judge Vanessa Baraitser said that she did not have the legal power to comment or rule on Assange's conditions, but encouraged the defence team to formally bring the matter up with the prison.
However, she said she would expect Assange to be treated in a way that protected his right to a fair trial.
"I think everyone in the court supports a fair hearing," she said.
James Lewis QC said the prosecution said they didn't want Assange to be held in a condition or experience treatment that jeopardised his right to a fair hearing.
Assange dressed in a grey suit, grey sweater and grey shirt, pursed his lips and squeezed his eyes shut.
He once gestured that he could not hear the proceedings.
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Source: 9News https://www.9news.com.au/world/julian-assange-court-case-london/072d51bb-ebae-4082-9b61-d8c211405d46