One of the lawyers representing the United States in the process opened in London to decide the extradition of Julian Assange, founder of the WikiLeaks portal, for defending confidential information of that country in 2010, has defended this Monday that journalism cannot serve as an excuse to violate the law and endanger the lives of people who have helped the West.
“The defense suggests that the risk that informants whose identities were disseminated has been exaggerated. But I would like to remind the court that these people were passing information on regimes such as Iran and organizations like al Qaeda,” has been James Lewis, one of the lawyers representing the North American Administration.
The trial has begun this Monday at Woolwich Crown Court, in southeast London. Sitting in the living room, Assange, dressed in a gray suit and perfectly shaved, has heard the lawyer’s argument. His father, John Shipton, has gone to court, where he sits in the part reserved for the public. From the street came the protests called by defenders of the founder of Wikileaks.
During this week, the court will listen to the parties’ arguments and postpone the trial until May to examine the evidence. The final decision on extradition could take months.
Assange, who is being held at Belmarsh High Security Prison, adjacent to the court, is accused by the United States of conspiracy to hack the computers of the US government and violate the espionage law. In total 18 crimes for which he can be sentenced to 175 years in jail. The US considers that Assange conspired with Chelsea Manning, the US soldier who leaked a large number of confidential diplomatic cables from the Government of that country.
Assange, who had been initially arrested in 2010 in the United Kingdom at Sweden’s request for a case of alleged sexual crimes that has already been filed, has spent the last 10 years confined, first under house arrest and then refugee at the Ecuadorian embassy in London until this country withdrew him from exile in 2019 and was arrested by British police and taken to Belmarsh.
On the occasion of the beginning of the Assange trial, the portal director Kristin Hrafnsson warned, in a statement to the media, that the outcome of the trial will determine “the future of journalism”, because he decides “what happens to a journalist who disseminates information of a truthful state and of public interest. ”
In recent days, a witness cited by Assange’s defense said U.S. President Donald Trump offered the pardon to the WikiLeaks founder if he denied Russia’s involvement in email leaks in 2016. Attorney Edward Fitzgerald He said he has evidence to suggest that former Republican Congressman Dana Rohrabacher made that offer to the Australian activist.
The lawyer said that Rohrabacher visited the Ecuadorian embassy in the United Kingdom in 2017, when Assange remained isolated. WikiLeaks aired in 2016 emails that affected the campaign for the presidency of Democrat Hillary Clinton. Several doctors asked last week that the founder of Wikileaks receive urgent health care, in a letter published in the British medical journal The Lancet.