An attorney representing the U.S. in Wikileaks founder Julian AssangeJulian Paul AssangeMexican president says he sought pardon for Assange from Trump British high court rules Assange can be extradited to US to face espionage charges Julian Assange given permission to marry in prison MORE’s extradition proceedings argued Monday in a British court that Assange put American lives at risk through material he published.
James Lewis told the court that Assange, who is wanted by the U.S. on 18 counts of conspiring to hack government devices and violating the Espionage Act, conspired on the hack with whistleblower Chelsea ManningChelsea Elizabeth Manning Chelsea Manning tests positive for COVID-19 Julian Assange stripped of Ecuadorian citizenship Biden DOJ to continue to seek Assange extradition MORE, Reuters reported. The case is a rare use of the Espionage Act against a publisher rather than the source.
Lewis dismissed the defense’s argument that Assange risked a prison term of up to 170 years as hyperbole, and said that Assange published the unredacted names of journalists, dissidents and informants in Iraq and Afghanistan, putting their lives at risk.
Lewis went on to claim that some of the sources whose names were unredacted had subsequently disappeared, CNBC reported, although he said this could not be definitively linked to Wikileaks’s publication of material.
Assange’s attorney, Edward Fitzgerald, has argued the charges against Assange could open the door to prosecuting investigative journalism, and the publisher's lawyers told The Wall Street Journal on Sunday that a verdict could take years and that they will appeal any decision in favor of extradition.
Fitzgerald also said during the Monday hearing that Assange would be a suicide risk if extradited, Reuters reported, saying that the extradition was a political consideration after President Obama, who he said had made a decision not to take further action against Assange in 2013, left office.
“President TrumpDonald TrumpPredictions of disaster for Democrats aren't guarantees of midterm failure A review of President Biden's first year on border policy Hannity after Jan. 6 texted McEnany 'no more stolen election talk' in five-point plan for Trump MORE came into power with a new approach to freedom of speech and a new hostility to the press amounting effectively to declaring war on investigative journalists,” Fitzgerald said.