Lawyers for Wikileaks founder Julian Assange are surprised by the new charges brought against their client in the US, said the defendant’s lawyer, mark summers.
A Federal Grand jury in the United States on June 25 issued a second indictment against Assange, alleging his collusion with hackers linked to Anonymous. The report does not contain new criminal episodes in addition to the 18 articles listed in the first indictment in May 2019. Still, it expands the scope of the conspiracy around alleged computer hacking, which Assange was previously accused.
“We were surprised by the time it was done. This may disrupt the timing of the case, “summers said, speaking on Monday during a regular administrative hearing at the London district of Westminster magistrates’ court.
According to him, the defense learned about the new charges from the media.
On Monday, judge Vanessa Baraitser ruled that the main hearing on Assange’s extradition, scheduled for September 7, will be held at the Central criminal court in London – the Old Bailey. At the hearing, which was held in a conference call and lasted several minutes, the defense reiterated its concern for the client’s health and stated that the forensic psychologist could not access him.
Assange himself has not appeared in court for almost three months, even via video link. The defense claims that because of lung disease, the Wikileaks founder risks Contracting COVID-19 and suffering severe consequences. Lawyers have previously stated that, on the recommendation of doctors, Assange cannot be present even in an unventilated room for video communication with the court. The defense also claims that it cannot get full access to the client due to quarantine measures. At the same time, at previous meetings, lawyers said that Assange gave them all the authority to represent him at the trial.
Earlier, the court set the dates for submitting documents for the extradition hearing on the merits: August 25 for the defense and September 1 for the prosecution. The prosecution also has until July 31 to submit a full report on the defendant’s mental health.
Assange, who was accused in Sweden in 2010 of sexual harassment and rape, has been hiding since June 2012 in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London, fearing extradition to the Scandinavian country. On the morning of April 11, 2019, he was detained at the request of the United States. A court in London found him guilty of breaching bail conditions and sentenced him to 11 months in prison. The extradition hearing began on May 2 last year. Soon after, US authorities announced that they had filed new charges against Assange for 17 counts of violating the espionage and disclosure of classified information act. If extradited to the United States, Assange faces up to 175 years in prison.
The main hearing on his extradition to the US will resume on September 7.