Assange extradition hearing begins in London

Asked today by the presiding judge whether he consents to be extradicted to the U.S. on espionage charges, Julian Assange said "No."

The district judge Vanessa Baraitser commented: "That was the response I was anticipating."

There were no opening statements by either parties. The indictment says Assange and WikiLeaks "repeatedly sought, obtained, and disseminated information that the United States classified due to the serious risk that unauthorised disclosure could harm the national security of the United States". It said: "Assange designed WikiLeaks to focus on information restricted from public disclosure by law, precisely because of the value of that information. …

[Assange lawyer Edward] Fitzgerald's submission asserted that the prosecution was "being pursued for ulterior political motives and not in good faith … The [US] request seeks extradition for what is a classic 'political offence'. Extradition for a political offence is expressly prohibited by article 4(1) of the Anglo-US extradition treaty. Therefore, it constitutes an abuse of this court's process to require this court to extradite on the basis of the Anglo-US treaty in breach of the treaty's express provisions."