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Julian Assange’s extradition hearing finishes a day early

3 min read
<p>The case being heard in London's Woolwich Crown Court has been adjourned until May 18, when it's scheduled to resume for another three weeks</p>

Part one of Julian Assange's extradition hearing has finished, a day early.

The case being heard in London's Woolwich Crown Court has been adjourned until May 18, when it's scheduled to resume for another three weeks.

It's expected witnesses will be called to the stand during this second part of the hearing.

Earlier in court, Assange's lawyers made an application for him to be freed from the dock, allowing the Australian to sit with them in open court.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange being taken from court, where he appeared on charges of jumping British bail seven years ago, in London, Wednesday May 1, 2019https://twitter.com/benavery9/status/1233050482815291392?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw

Despite the move, however, the Judge refused to let Assange come out of the dock and argued that other measures could be taken for him to be able to better communicate with his lawyers.

Those measures include delaying the start of hearings each day so lawyers can take instructions from Assange and the possibility of the upcoming May hearings running longer than the three weeks scheduled, if necessary.

Earlier, the court heard Assange's alleged offences are solely political because he was trying to change US government policy by exposing wrong-doing and war crimes.

https://twitter.com/benavery9/status/1233039915820052480?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfwhttps://twitter.com/benavery9/status/1233040179499155458?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw

Barrister Edward Fitzgerald argued that Assange wanted the US government to change its foreign policy when WikiLeaks released thousands of classified military and diplomatic files in 2010.

"We've seen WikiLeaks did effect change, that was one of the reasons there was (US troop) withdrawal (from Iraq), we also say that the US frequently said: 'WikiLeaks opposes US policy in Afghanistan'," he said.

"What other purpose can there be publishing the Apache helicopter strike (video) and (US) rules of engagement showing that the war conflicted with fundamental human rights?

"What other point can there be to releasing the Guantanamo Bay files than to induce a government change of policy, and the same for revealing for civilian deaths in Iraq war (it) was to induce a change in government policy."

Mr Fitzgerald said Assange's actions and inducing a change in government policy were "intimately connected".

Prosecution barrister James Lewis also said that Assange's action was not aimed at changing the US government or its policy.

"We say, it's not and therefore will not fall into the definition of political offence," he said.

The barrister said there was an English definition of a political offence, which was not purely dependent on the name of the offence like espionage, which Assange is charged with in the US.

"Extradition is based on conduct, it is not anymore based on the names of offences," he said.

Mr Lewis said there was no "political struggle" going on between the US government and "other factions" like WikiLeaks when the organisation was publishing the classified files.

"Any bare assertion that WikiLeaks was engaged in a struggle with the US government ... needs to be examined far more," he said.

He also said a political offence was a "dated" exemption in modern societies because the "times had changed" from when dissidents were trying to uphold liberal democracy.

Assange has been charged in the US with 17 counts of violating the Espionage Act and one of conspiring to commit computer intrusion over the leaking and publishing of thousands of classified US diplomatic and military files in 2010.

The charges carry a total of 175 years' imprisonment.

Julian Assange supporters protest outside Woolwich Crown Court in London, Britain, 26 February 2020.

Source: 9News https://www.9news.com.au/world/julian-assange-extrdition-hearing-day-four/247bc738-7f4b-432d-9079-0d7f908222aa

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