WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is yet to be shown key evidence in the case brought against him by the American authorities, his extradition hearing was told today.
The 48-year-old, faces accusations of leaking sensitive United States’ military material between January and May 2010.
The Australian national appeared at Westminster Magistrates’ Court over video-link from HMP Belmarsh white haired and clean shaven with a grey jumper and spoke to confirm his identity.
The Americans want to extradite him to US soil so he can be prosecuted for conspiring with army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning for leaking classified documents.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange gestures from the window of a prison van as he is driven into Southwark Crown Court in London on May 1, 2019. He appeared via video linking today at Westminster Magistrates
Assange is currently being held at Belmarsh prison (pictured above) which has housed some of the UK’s most notorious prisoners
He is being held in the high-security jail ahead of a full hearing in February when he will fight extradition to the US, where he faces 18 charges, including conspiring to hack into a Pentagon computer.
Gareth Peirce, representing Assange, said: ‘The summary case which we have prepared is a dense document.
‘Mr Assange has not been given what he must be given, and we are keen to go through this to the best of our abilities to keep with the requests of the court.
‘It is predicated on the underlying evidence that Mr Assange has not reviewed.’
Last month Swedish authorities dropped rape allegations made in 2010 against the editor.
Asaange appeared at Westminster Magistrates’ Court (pictured above) over video-link. His supporters had previously demonstrated outside court
Julian Assange pictured as he is led out of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London in handcuffs following his sensational arrest by British police earlier this year
Assange had taken refuge in a small office, converted into a bedroom in Ecuador’s embassy since 2012 before he was finally evicted earlier this year.
He was then jailed for 50 weeks for breaching bail on 1 May.
District Judge Vanessa Baraitser told Assange: ‘I am now adjourning your case to next Friday, 19 December, when a case management hearing will take place.
‘You will be produced as was request by both sides over the video link.’
It comes weeks after more than 60 doctors warned in an open letter addressed to Home Secretary Priti Patel that he could die in prison without urgent medical care.
The medics, from the UK, Australia, Europe and Sri Lanka, expressed ‘serious concerns’ about Assange’s fitness to stand trial.
He was jailed for 50 weeks in May for breaching his bail conditions after going into hiding in the Ecuadorian embassy in London to avoid extradition to Sweden over sex offence allegations, which he has always denied.
Last month, WikiLeaks welcomed a decision by the Swedish authorities to drop a rape investigation.
Assange has been in custody since he was dramatically removed from the embassy building in April, and at a hearing in October appeared to struggle to say his own name, telling Westminster Magistrates’ Court: ‘I can’t think properly.’
Last month, Assange’s close friend Pamela Anderson claimed she was threatened by a prison warden at Belmarsh.
Anderson said that towards the end of her meeting with Assange at Belmarsh high security prison in London in May the warden ‘stormed in and made it very clear to me, that if I were going to be a problem – he’d make problems for Julian. It was a direct threat’
The snap taken before Assange was thrown in prison shows the close relationship the pair share amid rumors there are romantically linked
Anderson said that towards the end of her meeting with Assange at Belmarsh high security prison in London in May the warden ‘stormed in’.
She said: ‘The warden stormed in and made it very clear to me, that if I were going to be a problem – he’d make problems for Julian. It was a direct threat.’
It was unclear why the warden, who is known as the prison governor in the UK, might have believed Anderson was going to cause trouble.
A UK Prison Service spokesman said: ‘The Governor of HMP Belmarsh did not threaten Ms Anderson or Mr Assange.’
On November 25, Home Secretary Priti Patel received a letter from medics across the world which stated Assange ‘could die’ at Belmarsh if he didn’t receive ‘urgent medical care’.
The medics – from the UK, Australia, Europe and Sri Lanka – express ‘serious concerns’ about the 48-year-old’s health.
The letter to Priti Patel, pictured, which was also copied to shadow home secretary Diane Abbott, says: ‘From a medical point of view, on the evidence currently available, we have serious concerns about Mr Assange’s fitness to stand trial in February 2020’
The doctors are calling for Assange to be transferred to a university teaching hospital, where he can be assessed and treated by an expert medical team.
The letter, which has also been copied to shadow home secretary Diane Abbott, says: ‘From a medical point of view, on the evidence currently available, we have serious concerns about Mr Assange’s fitness to stand trial in February 2020.
‘Most importantly, it is our opinion that Mr Assange requires urgent expert medical assessment of both his physical and psychological state of health.
‘Any medical treatment indicated should be administered in a properly equipped and expertly staffed university teaching hospital (tertiary care).
‘Were such urgent assessment and treatment not to take place, we have real concerns, on the evidence currently available, that Mr Assange could die in prison.
‘The medical situation is thereby urgent. There is no time to lose.’
Dr Lissa Johnson, a clinical psychologist in Australia and one of the letter’s signatories, said: ‘Given the rapid decline of his health in Belmarsh prison, Julian Assange must immediately be transferred to a university teaching hospital for appropriate and specialised medical care.
‘If the UK Government fails to heed doctors’ advice by urgently arranging such a transfer on medical grounds, there is a very real possibility that Mr Assange may die.
‘As it stands, serious questions surround not only the health impacts of Mr Assange’s detention conditions, but his medical fitness to stand trial and prepare his defence.
‘Independent specialist medical assessment is therefore needed to determine whether Julian Assange is medically fit for any of his pending legal proceedings.
‘Consistent with its commitment to human rights and rule of law, the UK Government must heed the urgent warning of medical professionals from around the world, and transfer Julian Assange to an appropriately specialised and expert hospital setting, before it’s too late.’
Julian Assange’s long legal battle
Assange creates Wikileaks with a group of like-minded activists and IT experts to provide a secure way for whistleblowers to leak information. He quickly becomes its figurehead and a lightning rod for criticism.
March: U.S. authorities allege Assange engaged in a conspiracy to hack a classified U.S. government computer with former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning.
July: Wikileaks starts releasing tens of thousands of top secrets documents, including a video of U.S. helicopter pilots gunning down 12 civilians in Baghdad in 2007. What followed was the release of more than 90,000 classified US military files from the Afghan war and 400,000 from Iraq that included the names of informants.
August: Two Swedish women claim that they each had consensual sex with Assange in separate instances when he was on a 10-day trip to Stockholm. They allege the sex became non-consensual when Assange refused to wear a condom.
First woman claims Assange was staying at her apartment in Stockholm when he ripped off her clothes. She told police that when she realized Assange was trying to have unprotected sex with her, she demanded he use a condom. She claims he ripped the condom before having sex.
Second Swedish woman claims she had sex with Assange at her apartment in Stockholm and she made him wear a condom. She alleges that she later woke up to find Assange having unprotected sex with her.
He was questioned by police in Stockholm and denied the allegations. Assange was granted permission by Swedish authorities to fly back to the U.K.
November: A Swedish court ruled that the investigation should be reopened and Assange should be detained for questioning on suspicion of rape, sexual molestation and unlawful coercion. An international arrest warrant is issued by Swedish police through Interpol.
Wikileaks releases its cache of more than 250,000 U.S. diplomatic cables.
December: Assange presents himself to London police and appears at an extradition hearing where he is remanded in custody. Assange is granted conditional bail at the High Court in London after his supporters pay £240,000 in cash and sureties.
February: A British judge rules Assange should be extradited to Sweden but Wikileaks found vows to fight the decision.
April: A cache of classified U.S. military documents is released by Wikileaks, including intelligence assessments on nearly all of the 779 people who are detained at the Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba.
November: Assange loses High Court appeal against the decision to extradite him.
June: Assange enters the Ecuadorian embassy in London requesting political asylum.
August: Assange is granted political asylum by Ecuador.
June: Assange tells a group of journalists he will not leave the embassy even if sex charges against him are dropped out of fear he will be extradited to the U.S.
August: Swedish prosecutors drop investigation into some of the sex allegations against Assange due to time restrictions. The investigation into suspected rape remains active.
July: Wikileaks begins leaking emails U.S. Democratic Party officials favoring Hillary Clinton.
November: Assange is questioned over the sex allegation at the Ecuadorian Embassy in the presence of Sweden’s assistant prosecutor Ingrid Isgren and police inspector Cecilia Redell. The interview spans two days.
January: Barack Obama agrees to free whistleblower Chelsea Manning from prison. Her pending release prompts speculation Assange will end his self-imposed exile after Wikileaks tweeted he would agree to U.S. extradition.
April: Lenin Moreno becomes the new president of Ecuador who was known to want to improve diplomatic relations between his country and the U.S.
May: An investigation into a sex allegation against Assange is suddenly dropped by Swedish prosecutors.
January: Ecuador confirms it has granted citizenship to Assange following his request.
February: Assange is visited by Pamela Anderson and Nobel Peace Prize winner Adolfo Perez Esquivel.
March: The Ecuadorian Embassy suspends Assange’s internet access because he wasn’t complying with a promise he made the previous year to ‘not send messages which entailed interference in relation to other states’.
August: U.S. Senate committee asks to interview Assange as part of their investigation into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election.
September: Assange steps down as editor of WikiLeaks.
October: Assange reveals he will launch legal action against the government of Ecuador, accusing it of violating his ‘fundamental rights and freedoms’.
November: U.S. Justice Department inadvertently names Assange in a court document that says he has been charged in secret.
January: Assange’s lawyers say they are taking action to make President Trump’s administration reveal charges ‘secretly filed’ against him.
April 6: WikiLeaks tweets that a high level Ecuadorian source has told them Assange will be expelled from the embassy within ‘hours or days’. But a senior Ecuadorian official says no decision has been made to remove him from the London building.
April 11: Assange has his diplomatic asylum revoked by Ecuador and he is arrested by the Metropolitan Police; he is remanded in custody by a judge at Westminster Magistrates Court.
April 12: He is found guilty of breaching his bail terms.
May 1: Sentenced to 11 months in jail.
May 2: Court hearing takes place over Assange’s proposed extradition to the U.S. He tells a court he does not consent to the extradition and the case is adjourned until May 30.
May 13: Swedish prosecutors reopen rape case saying they still want to question Assange.
June 3: Swedish court rules against detaining him in absentia, setting back the extradition case.
June 12 Home Secretary Sajid Javid signs an extradition request from the US.
June 13 A hearing sets out the date for Assange’s full extradition hearing – February next year.