No decision will be taken on Assange extradition before US vote

WION Web Team London, London, UK (Great Britain) Sep 26, 2020, 10.37 PM(IST)

File photo: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Photograph:( Reuters )

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The British judge presiding over his hearing said Friday concluded that "one way or another my decision is likely to go after the election in the US" and gave the defence four weeks to prepare their arguments, and the American government a further two weeks.

The decision on whether WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange would be extradited to face espionage charges in the United States will only be taken after the US election.

The British judge presiding over his hearing said Friday concluded that "one way or another my decision is likely to go after the election in the US" and gave the defence four weeks to prepare their arguments, and the American government a further two weeks.

Assange faces 18 charges in the US relating to the 2010 release by WikiLeaks of 500,000 secret files detailing aspects of military campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Evidence in the extradition hearing at London's Old Bailey court is due to close next week.

"Evidently it seems unlikely we will be able to get judgment before November 4," the lawyer representing the Australian told the court.

The lawyer also claimed that the move to extradite his client was politically motivated under US President Donald Trump, telling the court that some aspects of his defence, linked to the president, "would be worse if Mr Trump was there".

Washington claims Assange helped intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to steal the documents before exposing confidential sources around the world.

If convicted, Assange -- who has been held at London's high security Belmarsh Prison for the last 16 months -- could be jailed for up to 175 years.

The extradition hearing is the latest in a series of legal battles faced by Assange since the leaks a decade ago.

In 2010, he faced allegations of sexual assault and rape in Sweden, which he denied.

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