Efforts by Wikileaks founder Julian Assange to fight extradition to the US are in high gear ahead of his court appearance today.
Assange who has been in the custody of the UK police since being arrested in April has vowed to fight the extradition ‘as long as it takes’. An order from the UK government allowing his extradition was signed in June. His appearance today at Westminster Magistrates’ Court relates to case management hearing.
The US is seeking the extradition so that he can answer to charges of conspiring with ex-Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to illegally obtained classified information from a government computer.
Update: Assange seeking delay to start of extradition hearing
According to Sky News correspondet Laura Bundock, Assange has already appeared at the Westminster Magistrates’ Court and his lawyers for the Wikileaks founder are seeking a three-month delay.
In a tweet, Bundock indicated that the delay was sought due to the ‘enormity of issue’ as well as the various ‘restrictions placed on Assange. These restrictions include not having access to a computer at the Belmarsh prison where he is being held. Consequently, this has made the flow of documents slow.
This was corroborated by the author of Wikileaks: a True History., Gary Lord:
Julian #ASSANGE’s lawyers have asked the court for a 3 month extension to his extradition case as he has not been able to prepare fairly for it. They were only allowed to send documents to him by mail until last week, when they could do it in person. Mail went missing for months!
To further their case against extradition to the US, Assange’s lawyer claimed that even while he was holed at the Ecuadorian embassy, Assange’s life had been in danger, per Bundock.
The judge has however denied to extend the extradition hearing.
So does Wikileaks founder stand to gain by delaying extradition?
In a tweet, Lord suggested that Julian Assange could be hoping to extend the hearing for as long as possible in hopes that a new government, which opposes his extradition to the US, might be formed in the coming months.
According to the Daily Mail, the extradition fight could last more than half a decade. This could cost UK taxpayers up to £600,000 ($780,000) in jail and court costs. During his seven-year stay in the Ecuadorian embassy, it is estimated that Assange cost the UK taxpayers £16 million ($20.8 million) in policing and other expenses.