Trump's 'war on journalists' behind Julian Assange's extradition bid: Lawyer

WION Web Team London, United Kingdom Feb 25, 2020, 04.39 PM(IST)

File photo of Julian Assange. Photograph:( Zee News Network )

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Assange is facing charges under the US Espionage Act for the 2010 release by his anti-secrecy website of a trove of files detailing the realities of US military campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange's lawyer has claimed that US President Donald Trump's vendetta against journalists is responsible for his extradition bid.

His lawyer Edward Fitzgerald argued the charges were "politically motivated" and that the US had reversed a 2013 decision not to charge Assange because Trump wanted "to make an example" of him.

Also read: Trump offered to pardon Assange if he denied Russia helped leak Democrats' emails: Lawyer

"President Trump came into power with a new approach to the freedom of the press... amounting effectively to declaring war on investigative journalists," he told a packed courtroom in southeast London.

Fitzgerald said his client was "the obvious symbol of all that Trump condemned" and that charging him for publishing state secrets was "unprecedented".

"The prosecution is being pursued for ulterior political motives and not in good faith," he added.

Also read: Wikileaks' Assange in court ahead of US extradition hearing next week

The arguments were made in a London court on Monday at the start of Assange's extradition hearing.

Making the US government case, James Lewis denied it was motivated by embarrassment over the WikiLeaks releases and wanted him over the "harm" caused by his disclosures.

Assange sat impassively inside Woolwich Crown Court as a lawyer for the United States accused him of risking the lives of intelligence sources by publishing classified US government documents.

He is facing charges under the US Espionage Act for the 2010 release by his anti-secrecy website of a trove of files detailing the realities of US military campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq.