A London court on Friday set February 2020 as the date for the hearing on whether WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange would be extradited to the United States to face charges of violating the Espionage Act and conspiring to hack into classified government documents.
Assange, who is currently serving 50-weeks imprisonment at Belmarsh Prison, appeared in London’s Westmegistrate court on Friday via a video link.
The 47-year-old Assange faces an 18-count indictment issued by the US Justice Department last month. The US prosecutors had initially charged Assange with a single count of computer intrusion, but later added 18 new counts, including controversial charges under the Espionage Act for encouraging, receiving and publishing national defence information in concert with former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning.
The hearing came a day after Britain’s Home Secretary Sajid Javid signed the extradition request sent by the US Justice Department.
“Julian Assange was arrested in relation to a provisional extradition request from the United States of America. He is accused of offences including computer misuse and the unauthorised disclosure of national defence information,” Javid had said after signing the extradition request.
Assange is currently serving 50 weeks imprisonment sentence in UK’s Belmarsh prison for skipping bail to avoid being sent to Sweden over sexual assault allegations. The Australian whistleblower has denied the allegations against him, asserting that they were politically motivated.