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A woman, with a US flag covering her mouth, holds up a sign in support of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange outside Woolwich Crown Court - Sputnik International

Live Updates: Week-Long Assange Extradition Hearing Kicks Off at Woolwich Court - Video

Julian Assange was given shelter in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London from 2012 until April 2019, when he was arrested by British police after Quito revoked his asylum status. He now faces extradition to the United States on multiple spying charges for his involvement in leaking classified US military information.

This Monday, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is expected to attend the first day of the extradition hearing at Woolwich Court in London, which is to last for a week. The second part of the hearing, that will last three weeks, will start on 18 May.

The founder of the whistleblowing wesbite had spent seven years in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London after skipping bail and asking for political asylum in 2012 to evade possible extradition to the United States.

The WikiLeaks founder was charged by a US court on 18 felony charges, mostly regarding violations of the Espionage Act, after he leaked classified cables that exposed US transgressions during the Iraq and Afghan wars. Assange faces five to 10 years in prison for each if convicted.

The publisher was forced out of the embassy last year, after months of mounting pressure from Ecuador’s President Lenin Moreno, and is being held at a high-security prison in London.

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Speaking at Woolwich Crown Court on Monday, Lawyer James Lewis, representing the United States in the extradition hearing, said that Assange is wanted for crimes that allegedly put at risk the lives of people.

10:45 GMT 24.02.2020

We want to give the message to the whole world that we are here to support Julian Assange, to give him strength because he is very weakened after several months that he was in isolation. And he is just out from isolation since two or three weeks, so we want to give him a lot of strength because he needs it and we want to put pressure, mediatic pressure on the justice, the politics, so they don't extradite him and they let him free because he hasn't done any crime, he's innocent. He has revealed crimes and he shouldn't be enjailed. People who did crimes should be in jail, not him.

Assange supporters hold protest in London - Sputnik International
10:22 GMT 24.02.2020

Supporters of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange have gathered outside Woolwich Crown Court in the UK capital of London, the site of his extradition hearing which gets underway on Monday, a Sputnik correspondent at the scene reports.

Dozens of supporters gathered outside the court on Monday morning, carrying banners with messages such as “Don’t Extradite Assange” and “The Truth Will Win.” Supporters of the WikiLeaks founder were heard chanting “Free Assange” at regular intervals.

“The Assange case concerns all of us, it is about freedom of speech, freedom of journalists. Be sure to listen to the defence arguments, it is not simply chattering from the US side,” one of the demonstrators told a Sputnik correspondent.

10:18 GMT 24.02.2020
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Assange, whose health, according to lawyers, has seriously deteriorated after his April arrest to the point where his life was at risk, came wearing a light gray suit, shaved and looking well, according to Sputnik correspondent.

The whistleblower confirmed his name and age upon the start of the hearing.

Assange's father, John Shipton, is also present at the hearing, along with other supporters.

09:48 GMT 24.02.2020

People gathered on Monday outside Belmarsh prison to support WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on the first day of the extradition hearing.

"Well, I think this case is so critical and vital and frightening as well in many ways because if Assange and a legal team don't win this, you know, how is anybody else gonna be able to win anything in terms of sharing truthful and accurate information for the public good? And so, it's been said many times before, but it's true, it will set a very dangerous precedent. This involves press freedom, freedom of speech and the right to know, the right to know the world around you. Because of course, how can we make decisions without that kind of knowledge? We need to know what world we live in. We need to know what our governments are doing in our names, so that we can say: no, we do not want this, we don't want this kind of world," Joe Morrison, one of the protesters, said.


Assange supporters hold protest in London - Sputnik International
Assange supporters hold protest in London  - Sputnik International
Assange supporters hold protest in London - Sputnik International
Assange supporters hold protest in London - Sputnik International
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