02:13 GMT26 November 2020
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    MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Supporters of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange have gathered in front of the Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London on Thursday, ahead of a preliminary hearing in a case that will decide if he will be extradited to the United States, according to a Sputnik correspondent at the scene.

    Approximately two dozen people came to support Assange, carrying posters demanding his release. Assange is expected to appear in court via video link, amid ongoing concerns about his health.

    ​On Friday, the magistrates’ court postponed this preliminary hearing on the request of the WikiLeaks founder's lawyers, after the defence asked for extra time to study the case materials, citing technological issues.

    ​Assange's extradition case, due to take place next year, will consist of three separate stages. Hearings are scheduled throughout January and February.

    Assange, who was initially accused of sexual harassment and rape in Sweden in 2010, had sought asylum at the Ecuadorian embassy in London from 2012 to 2019. In April, UK police entered the embassy to arrest the WikiLeaks founder, and he was eventually sentenced to 50 weeks in prison for breaching bail conditions.

    In May, the US Department of Justice indicted Assange on 17 additional charges under the Espionage Age and demanded his extradition. If convicted of these charges, the WikiLeaks founder faces up to 175 years in prison. The UK Home Secretary at the time, Sajid Javid, approved the extradition request, stating that he did not believe that Assange faced death or torture if extradited.

    The US Espionage Act makes it a crime to spread information that would interfere with the operations of the US Armed Forces during a war, or promote the success of the US’ enemies.


    UK May Refuse to Extradite Wikileaks Founder to US Due to Spying Case - Assange's Lawyer
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