03:03 GMT05 June 2020
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    MOSCOW (Sputnik) - The case of regular spying in the interests of US authorities may encourage the United Kingdom to refuse to extradite Wikileaks founder Julian Assange to the United States, lawyer Aitor Martinez, who coordinates Assange's defence in Spain, said.

    "The criminal investigation launched in Spain is very relevant because it shows that Mr. Assange and his lawyers were regularly spied on by the US authorities at the Ecuadorian embassy in London. This could lead to the United Kingdom's refusal to extradite him to a country where the minimum legal guarantees are not respected," the lawyer said.

    Martinez said that a Spanish court had opened a criminal case against the Spanish security company, which worked in the Ecuadorian embassy in London.

    "According to the information in the case, this company allegedly worked for US intelligence, installed microphones in fire extinguishers inside the embassy, ​​changed internal CCTV cameras to others with microphones that recorded conversations, made photocopies of ID cards of all the visits, and sometimes they received access to the contents of electronic devices of visitors to manipulate the data obtained. According to this investigation, all this information was sent directly to the US intelligence," Martinez explained.

    The next hearing on the possible extradition of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange to the United States will be held on February 25, 2020, and the defense hopes that the request of US authorities will be rejected, lawyer Aitor Martinez said.

    "On December 19th, a hearing will be held in the United Kingdom at the Westminster Court, but in a simple procedure to present evidence. Mr. Assange will not be present. Subsequently, on February 25, 2020, a hearing will be held on the extradition, which will decide whether to extradite Mr. Assange to the United States or not, although we hope that the US request will be rejected," the lawyer said.

    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.

    Julian Assange 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 in the Belmarsh high-security prison for breaching bail in the UK and requesting asylum from a third country.

    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.

    Related:

    Julian Assange is Being Persecuted for Exposing 'Crimes of Historic Importance' Say Journalists
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    United States, extradition, Wikileaks, Julian Assange
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