WikiLeaks' Julian Assange too unwell to attend extradition appeal hearing, hundreds protest outside

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was too unwell to attend his appeal hearing to stop his extradition from the UK to the US, London High Court judges heard Tuesday.

52-year-old Assange faces up to 175 years in prison for espionage after distributing classified US government documents on his website. If convicted in the US, he would likely die behind bars.

Daily Mail reports that hundreds of protesters were gathered outside of the court house, including his wife Stella, who addressed the crowd in a speech.

"We have two big days ahead. We don't know what to expect, but you are here because the world is watching," she said. "They have to know they can't get away with this. Julian needs his freedom and we all need the truth."

"Please keep on showing up, be there for Julian and for us, until Julian is free," she added.

"The situation is extremely grave. He could be on a plane within days," she had said in previous comments. "His health is in decline, mentally and physically. His life is at risk every single day he stays in prison, and if he's extradited, he will die."

Two judges heard from lawyers representing Assange on how he is being prosecuted for an "ordinary journalistic practice."

Mark Summers KC (King's counsel) detailed an alleged plan to poison or kidnap Assange while he was sheltering at the Ecuadorian embassy in London for around 7 years: "What the evidence now shows is that the US developed a plan to try to either kill or rendition Mr Assange to the USA."

"What evidence the district judge heard on that came from protected witness two and it was truly breathtaking."

"With respect to the district judge, there were red flags everywhere."

He said that the plan "only fell apart when the UK authorities weren't very keen on the thought of rendition, or a shootout, in the streets of London."

Lawyer Edward Fitzgerald KC said that Assange would face a trial with "tainted evidence" and jurors who are "prejudiced irretrievably by public denunciations of him made by the President downwards," referring to Joe Biden.

"He is being prosecuted for engaging in ordinary journalistic practice of obtaining and publishing classified information, information that is both true and of obvious and important public interest," he argued.



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