Wikileaks founder Julian Assange faces 175 years of incarceration in the United States for publishing ultra-secret American documents. It is in London, where he is now, that everything will play out. The British justice hearings began this morning and must decide on his possible extradition to the United States.
Controversial figure, 48-year-old Australian said in preliminary hearing that he refused to “Extradite for journalism work that has garnered many awards and protected many people”.
500,000 documents and 250,000 diplomatic cables
First prosecuted for computer hacking, then conspiracy, Assange saw the charges against him weighing down last May when the American justice accused him of spying. His supporters denounce in these proceedings a serious danger to press freedom.
The United States accuses him in particular of having endangered some of their sources by publishing in 2010 on Wikileaks 250,000 diplomatic cables and 500,000 confidential documents relating to the activities of the American army in Iraq and Afghanistan. Among these documents was a video showing civilians killed by gunfire from an American combat helicopter in Iraq in July 2007.
British justice will have to determine whether the extradition request submitted to it meets a certain number of legal criteria, and in particular whether it is not disproportionate or incompatible with human rights.
Julian Assange had taken refuge for nearly seven years at the Embassy of Ecuador. Originally, he sought to escape an extradition request to Sweden for alleged rape and sexual assault. A police raid had ended his run in April 2019. Since then, the Swedish prosecution has been dropped, but not the American extradition request.
The hearing will be adjourned at the end of the week to resume on May 18 for three weeks. The decision may be appealed.