Julian Assange greets supporters outside the Ecuadorian embassy in London, May 19, 2017. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein

Lawyers for US Gov’t Tell UK Court Why Julian Assange Should Face Spying Charges

Associated Press |

London. Lawyers for the American government argued on Wednesday before a London court why they think Julian Assange should face espionage charges in the United States, in response to a last-ditch bid by his defense to stop the extradition of the WikiLeaks founder.

Assange’s lawyers are asking the High Court to grant him a new appeal — his last legal roll of the dice in the long-running legal saga that has kept him in a British high-security prison for the past five years.

The 52-year-old Australian has been indicted on 17 charges of espionage and one charge of computer misuse over his website’s publication of classified US documents almost 15 years ago. American prosecutors allege Assange encouraged and helped US Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning steal diplomatic cables and military files that WikiLeaks later published, putting lives at risk.

Lawyer Clair Dobbin told the High Court on Wednesday that Assange damaged US security and intelligence services and “created a grave and imminent risk” by releasing the classified documents — risks that could harm and lead to arbitrary detention of innocent people.

Dobbin added that in encouraging Manning to hack into government computers and steal from them, Assange was “going a very considerable way beyond” a journalist gathering information.

Assange’s supporters maintain he is a secrecy-busting journalist who exposed US military wrongdoing in Iraq and Afghanistan. They argue that the prosecution is politically motivated and he won’t get a fair trial in the US.

Assange’s lawyers argued on the first day of the hearing on Tuesday that American authorities are seeking to punish Assange for WikiLeaks’ “exposure of criminality on the part of the US government on an unprecedented scale,” including torture and killings.

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