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© Sputnik / Justin Griffiths-Williams

London Court Sets Dates for Assange Extradition Hearings

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LONDON (Sputnik) - The Westminster Magistrate’s Court of London on Thursday determined the further order and dates of the hearings on the extradition of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

Assange, who appeared at a video conference from Belmarsh Prison, looked quite buoyant. The defendant answered the on-duty questions of the judge and during the meeting leafed through the case file.

The defenсe stated that their client, while in prison, still has problems accessing the case file.

After brief negotiations, the trial judge, Vanessa Baraitser, and Assange's lawyers agreed on the dates of the upcoming hearings to take place on 14 and 23 January, as well as 7 and 24 February. The dates of the hearings in February are subject to change.

At the very end of the meeting, one of Assange's supporters present at the hearing stood up and began shouting allegations against British justice.

The Australian journalist was arrested on 11 April by the UK police in the Ecuadorian embassy, after Quito withdrew his asylum, and the walls of the embassy, where he was sheltering for the past seven years from extradition, were no longer able to protect him. Later that day, the Magistrates' Court sentenced him to 50 weeks for breaching bail in the UK and requesting asylum from a third country.

Until November, the whistleblower faced possible extradition to the US and Sweden. On 19 November, Stockholm announced dropping the investigation into Assange on alleged rape charges. The UK court is now to decide whether to extradite the fugitive journalist to the US where he is wanted on espionage charges.

Washington indicted Assange on 17 offenses under the 1917 US Espionage Act, punishable 10 years in prison each, in addition to an allegation that he conspired with former US army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to hack a classified government computer, punishable 5 years. In total, it brings his potential sentence in the US to 175 years behind bars.