13:48 GMT17 February 2020
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    The extradition proceedings in Julian Assange’s case will begin in February 2019, with the whistle-blower facing 175 years in prison if found guilty of all charges.

    A man climbed the Australian Parliament building in Canberra on Monday in a solo protest demanding the release of Julian Assange.

    The protester, wearing a black suit and hat, was (literally) blowing the whistle as he yelled, “Free the whistle-blowers” and “free Julian Assange.”

    The man promised to stay up there until Assange is released from jail and told onlookers to get him a sleeping bag. He put up a banner reading, “Free Assange. No US extradition” and walked across the glass roof of Parliament House before police arrested him.

    There has been no word on whether the protester is facing any charges.

    Julian Assange, an Australian citizen, is currently serving a 50-week jail term for skipping bail in 2012 to avoid being sent to Sweden. He was wanted there on charges of sexual assault, which he rejected as politically motivated.

    Assange, the founder of the famous anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks, sought refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in London and stayed there for almost seven years until April this year, when Ecuador stripped him of his asylum status.

    He is facing an extradition to the United States on charges relating to the publication of diplomatic cables and exposing damning evidence against the US-led military campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq. The 17 counts combined carry a maximum prison sentence of 175 years. The extradition hearing is scheduled to start on 25 February.

    Last month, 11 Australian MPs formed a cross-party group to advocate for bringing Assange home.

    "Whatever people may think of him, Julian Assange is an Australian and deserves consular assistance and support from the Australian government," said Labour MP Julian Hill, a member of the group.

    Prime Minister Scott Morrison has made it clear his government would let the legal processes in Britain run their course and said Assange “should face the music.”

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    parliament, Australia, protest, WikiLeaks, Julian Assange
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