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.
Westminster Magistrate's Court at 08.30 for substantive hearing in #JulianAssange's. Already a queue of both press & supporters. The case summary, which #Assange's lawyer said includes up to 20 witnesses & new evidence, will be discussed today.— M. A. E. (@MElmaazi) December 19, 2019
via @SputnikInt/@SputnikNewsUK pic.twitter.com/H55yyaGiBc
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.