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03:13

UK: Assange's supporters call for his release as he appears in court

United Kingdom, London
January 13, 2020 at 18:55 GMT +00:00 · Published

Just over a dozen supporters of WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange gathered outside Westminster Magistrates Court in London on Monday to call for his release.

Many of his followers, including rapper M.I.A., referred to the proceedings as "ridiculous," as Assange was given limited access to his legal team before a hearing in the court on the same day.

One supporter said that "the entire focus of it was the lack of access that Julian Assange's legal team has had to their client. Gareth Pierce, Julian's solicitor, said that since the last time they talked to the court, they had precisely two hours of contact with their client. He was brought to the court today because they expected to be able to spend considerable amounts of time preparing the case here at the court. The judge told them that because of the number of other prisoners in the court that that would be reduced to just one hour. And it was clear, I think, from the judge's attitude, which in previous hearings has been distinctly unsympathetic, that even she thought that this was an outrageous denial of proper preparation of this legal case."

Monday's hearing was related to his possible extradition to the US to face espionage charges.

Assange is facing an official extradition hearing expected to begin in February 2020 but his lawyers reportedly used Monday's hearing to complain that they had not enough time to prepare.

The WikiLeaks co-founder has remained behind bars in Belmarsh Prison since May 2019, after he was sentenced to 50 weeks in prison for breaching his bail conditions to avoid extradition to Sweden on sexual assault allegations.

Despite this sentence coming to an end on September 22, a British judge ordered Assange remain in prison while facing extradition to the US, due to his previous history of absconding.

03:13
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Just over a dozen supporters of WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange gathered outside Westminster Magistrates Court in London on Monday to call for his release.

Many of his followers, including rapper M.I.A., referred to the proceedings as "ridiculous," as Assange was given limited access to his legal team before a hearing in the court on the same day.

One supporter said that "the entire focus of it was the lack of access that Julian Assange's legal team has had to their client. Gareth Pierce, Julian's solicitor, said that since the last time they talked to the court, they had precisely two hours of contact with their client. He was brought to the court today because they expected to be able to spend considerable amounts of time preparing the case here at the court. The judge told them that because of the number of other prisoners in the court that that would be reduced to just one hour. And it was clear, I think, from the judge's attitude, which in previous hearings has been distinctly unsympathetic, that even she thought that this was an outrageous denial of proper preparation of this legal case."

Monday's hearing was related to his possible extradition to the US to face espionage charges.

Assange is facing an official extradition hearing expected to begin in February 2020 but his lawyers reportedly used Monday's hearing to complain that they had not enough time to prepare.

The WikiLeaks co-founder has remained behind bars in Belmarsh Prison since May 2019, after he was sentenced to 50 weeks in prison for breaching his bail conditions to avoid extradition to Sweden on sexual assault allegations.

Despite this sentence coming to an end on September 22, a British judge ordered Assange remain in prison while facing extradition to the US, due to his previous history of absconding.

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