WikiLeaks founder starts fight against extradition to US

WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange told a London court on Thursday that he did not wish to surrender himself for extradition to the US for doing his job that had won him several awards and protected many people.

After briefly hearing him via video link from Belmarsh Prison, a judge at Westminster Magistrates Court set the next hearing for May 30.

The hearing took place a day after Assange was jailed for jumping bail by a different court in another case.

Assange is wanted in the US for conspiring with former US Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to hack into computers of the department of defence in March 2010.

Manning gave Assange thousands of classified documents that revealed the wrongs committed by US military in the Iraq war.

If convicted by a US court, Assange may be sentenced up to five years in jail.

While expressing his outrage over the jailing of Assange in the bail-jumping case,

WikiLeaks’ editor-in-chief Kristinn Hrafnsson said the extradition hearing could be a question of life or death not only for Assange but also “for a major journalistic principle.”

Assange’s supporters protested in front of the court as his hearing was held in a small room inside the court giving no opportunity for media and people to witness the trial.

He was jailed on Wednesday for 50 weeks for jumping jail in 2012 by taking refuge in Ecuador’s London embassy to avoid extradition to Sweden where he faced charges of rape and sexual assault.

Assange has denied the charges, saying they were linked to the whistle-blowing work of WikiLeaks.

On April 11 this year, he was dragged out of the embassy and arrested after Ecuador revoked his asylum for misbehaviour.