Julian Assange says will fight extradition to US

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has told a a London court he will fight extradition to the United States where he faces trial for one of the largest compromises of classified information in history.

Asked at a hearing at London’s Westminster Magistrates’ Court whether he agreed to be extradited to the US, Assange, appearing via a video link from a British prison, said he did not wish to surrender to extradition for doing what he called “journalism that has won many awards”.

The US has requested the extradition of Assange, who was dragged from the Ecuadorean embassy in London on April 11, and has charged him with conspiracy to commit computer intrusion which carries a maximum penalty of five years.

The 47-year-old Australian was jailed for 50 weeks on Wednesday for jumping bail in 2012. At the time, he was facing extradition to Sweden for questioning over rape and sexual assault allegations made by two women.

“We’ve been saying since 2010 that the risk is real, and now we have a provisional extradition request from the United States,” lawyer Jennifer Robinson told reporters.

“The focus of our energies will now be on fighting that extradition request,” Robinson said.

Protests in support of Assange are planned in London, Berlin and Paris on Thursday to coincide with the start of extradition proceedings in Britain, including a “We are all Julian Assange” event at the Brandenburg Gate in central Berlin.

Assange was arrested last month after his relationship with his embassy hosts went sour and Ecuador revoked his political asylum status.

He is accused of scheming with former army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to break a password for a classified government computer.

Manning served several years in prison for leaking classified documents to WikiLeaks. She was jailed again in March after refusing to give evidence to a grand jury investigating WikiLeaks.

WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Kristinn Hrafnsson said on Wednesday that the extradition battle was “a question of life and death” for Assange.

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