At today’s case management hearing Julian Assange appeared before Westminster magistrates court via video link.
The purpose of the hearing was to agree on the timetable of upcoming proceedings.
Mr Assange will continue to be presented before Westminster magistrates court every 28 days and will therefore appear again on 19th February for a further case management hearing.
The full extradition hearing will begin on 24th February 2020 at Woolwich Crown Court and will run 1-2 weeks before adjournment. The hearing will recommence on May 18th 2020 and is expected to run a further 3-4 weeks.
Speaking at the hearing, Edward Fitzgerald QC, for Assange, said ‘We’ve had great difficulties in getting into Belmarsh to take instructions from Mr Assange and to discuss the evidence with him.’ Mr Fitzgerald continued: ‘We simply cannot get in as we require to see Mr Assange and to take his instruction.’
More than 30 politicians from 14 countries have insisted on monitoring the extradition hearings which will have a profound impact on Journalism and freedom of the press.
Speaking outside the court after the hearing WikiLeaks’ Kristinn Hrafnsson said:
“We have now learned from submissions and affidavits presented by the United States to this court, that they do not consider foreign nationals to have a first amendment protection”.
“The US have decided that they can go after journalists wherever they are residing in the world, that they have universal jurisdiction, like they are doing by trying to get an Australian national extradited from the UK – for publishing that took place outside US borders. At the same time they are not granting any foreign journalist the protection of the First Amendment”.
“This is extremely serious and of grave concern to all journalists”.
Since April 11th 2019 Julian Assange has been held at the maximum security Belmarsh Prison in London. The United Kingdom is detaining Julian solely on behalf of the United States, which requests his extradition and has charged him with 18 counts carrying 175 years in prison for publishing truthful and accurate information in the public interest.
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