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Hearings on Assange extradition to US start in London

UNITED STATES (OBSERVATORY NEWS) — Hearings on the extradition to the United States of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange begin on Monday at the Royal Court of Woolwich in east London.

The choice of location is not accidental – the Wulich royal court is located near Belmarsh prison, where Assange is held, and from where he will be delivered to hearings daily.

It is planned that the hearings will last four weeks, however, the prosecution asked to break them into two parts: the first week will be held now, it will hear the initial arguments of the parties, the remaining three – in May – early June, evidence of the positions will be given at these hearings, and will give testimony of witnesses in the case.

After some time, after the hearing, a court decision is expected, but it most likely will not mean the end of the process: one of the parties, most likely, will appeal. As Assange’s lawyer Jennifer Robinson recently noted, the case could take years and reach the Supreme Court.

All this time, Assange, whose prison term officially ended last year, is likely to be imprisoned: Robinson, in an interview with RIA Novosti, recalled that since he had already violated the rules for leaving bail, he had a chance to get out of prison before the end of the process very little.

Moreover, the argument that the publication of classified materials served the public interest in the United States will not help him: the law on espionage does not provide for such an opportunity.

Assange, accused of sexual harassment and rape in Sweden in 2010, has been hiding since June 2012 at the Ecuadorian embassy in London for fear of extradition to a Scandinavian country. On the morning of April 11, 2019, he was detained at the request of the United States.

A court in London found him guilty of violating the conditions of bail and sentenced to 11 months in prison. Hearings on extradition began on May 2 last year.

US officials said in late May that they had charged Assange with 17 episodes of violation of the law on espionage and the disclosure of classified information. If extradited to the United States, Assange will face imprisonment of up to 175 years.

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