Julian Assange's partner, Stella Moris, has launched a fundraiser to assist with mounting legal costs as the WikiLeaks publisher faces extradition to the US on espionage charges. Ms Moris, a criminal defence lawyer who has two sons with the imprisoned publisher, explained in her crowdfunder launch that the family's "resources are very limited".
"The Wikileaks releases were all issued, in an enormous exercise over a period of more than a year, without receiving payment. Now it is a matter of David against Goliath."
John Rees, of WikiLeaks' official Don't Extradite Assange Campaign, echoed the concerns over the legal costs related to the ongoing extradition proceedings. Mr Rees, a historian and long-time journalist, told Sputnik that "court costs in the UK alone will be £600,000".
Mr Rees noted that:
"The crowdfunder reached it £25,000 target in 24 hours thanks to the generosity of Julian Assange’s supporters. But the campaign needs more... Lawyers are working for minimal fees. Our opponent, the US state, has deep pockets. So we need to stay fighting, and stay financed."
The United States recently issued a new indictment against Mr Assange which does not amend the key charges against him but expands the allegations of one of the conspiracy charges. The defence team characterised this latest indictment as a potential abuse of process and noted that nothing in this latest indictment justified its late service on weeks before the main hearings are due to restart on 7 September.
Ed Fitzgerald QC, speaking for the defence, noted his concern that the purpose of this superseding indictment was largely to engineer an "improper delay" to the proceedings until after US presidential elections due to be held in November 2020. Judge Vanessa Baraitser granted the defence team until 21 August 2020 to decide whether they would be seeking an extension of time as a result of this latest superseding indictment.
Mr Assange, remains incarcerated in the Belmarsh maximum-security prison on pre-trial detention, despite completing his sentence for absconding while on bail when he sought and obtained asylum at the Ecuadorian embassy. He faces up to 175 years in prison if he is convicted on all 18 charges levied against him.