UK judge rejects Assange bid to delay US extradition case
September 7, 2020
LONDON (Reuters) – WikiLeaks’ founder Julian Assange, who is fighting to avoid extradition to the United States from Britain, failed on Monday in a bid to further delay hearings that resumed after a pause of months caused by the coronavirus lockdown. The US authorities accuse Australian-born Assange, 49, of conspiring to hack government computers and of violating an espionage law in connection with the release of confidential cables by WikiLeaks in 2010-2011. Assange, clean-shaven and wearing a suit at Monday’s hearing, formally declined to be extradited. He has been presented with a new, wider superseding indictment issued by U.S. authorities in June, which contains 18 alleged offences of conspiring to hack government computers and espionage. The judge rejected his lawyers’ application for the case to be adjourned until January to allow them more time to consider new US accusations. “We’re simply not in a position to gather the evidence necessary and respond to the case that has only emerged in the last few weeks,” Assange’s lawyer Mark Summers said. Assange is seen by his admirers as a champion of free speech who exposed US abuses of power. His critics say that by publishing unredacted documents, he recklessly endangered the lives of intelligence sources. Assange made international headlines in 2010 when WikiLeaks published a US military video showing a 2007 attack by Apache helicopters in Baghdad that killed a dozen people, including two Reuters news staff. The site later published vast troves of US military records and diplomatic cables. More recently, it released documents stolen from the Democratic National Committee during the 2016 US presidential election campaign. Assange denies accusations by US investigators that it obtained those documents from Russian hackers, though the issue is not part of the legal proceedings.