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UK: Court maintains Assange's trial in May despite coronavirus restrictions02:38

UK: Court maintains Assange's trial in May despite coronavirus restrictions

United Kingdom, London
April 7, 2020 at 15:50 GMT -00:00 · Published

The Westminster Magistrates Court in London ruled that Wikileaks founder Julian Assange's trial is set to proceed as initially planned, on May 18, despite restrictions due to the coronavirus outbreak. A handful of Assange supporters gathered outside the court in London on Tuesday.

Footage shows the supporters holding posters and placards, expressing their support for Assange. A tent was also set up outside the court.

"All of the lawyers appeared via telephone link and there were two main things that came out from today's hearing. One, the judge decided that the second part of Julian Assange's substantive extradition hearings, which are due to start on the 18th of May, will go ahead," said Mohamed Elmaazi, a journalist who followed the hearing.

"This is despite the fact that the defence argued quite strongly that it would not be possible for Assange to have a fair hearing given the level of restrictions currently being implemented by the British government in the prison system," he added.

"In the meantime, as far as we're aware, Julian Assange is unable to get out of his cell. He's kept within his cell for 23 hours a day or more. What exercise there is, is in a small area with 40 other people or so. So it's argued that it's not safe for him, or any other vulnerable person due to the COVID-19 outbreak, because of the inability for all the social distancing rules to be implemented," said Elmaazi.

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

UK: Court maintains Assange's trial in May despite coronavirus restrictions02:38
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The Westminster Magistrates Court in London ruled that Wikileaks founder Julian Assange's trial is set to proceed as initially planned, on May 18, despite restrictions due to the coronavirus outbreak. A handful of Assange supporters gathered outside the court in London on Tuesday.

Footage shows the supporters holding posters and placards, expressing their support for Assange. A tent was also set up outside the court.

"All of the lawyers appeared via telephone link and there were two main things that came out from today's hearing. One, the judge decided that the second part of Julian Assange's substantive extradition hearings, which are due to start on the 18th of May, will go ahead," said Mohamed Elmaazi, a journalist who followed the hearing.

"This is despite the fact that the defence argued quite strongly that it would not be possible for Assange to have a fair hearing given the level of restrictions currently being implemented by the British government in the prison system," he added.

"In the meantime, as far as we're aware, Julian Assange is unable to get out of his cell. He's kept within his cell for 23 hours a day or more. What exercise there is, is in a small area with 40 other people or so. So it's argued that it's not safe for him, or any other vulnerable person due to the COVID-19 outbreak, because of the inability for all the social distancing rules to be implemented," said Elmaazi.

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

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