WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is wanted by the United States for being a “political enemy” of President Donald Trump. This was announced in London on Wednesday.
Australian-born Assange, 49, is fighting against being posted to the US, where he is accused of conspiring to hack government computers and violating an espionage law on WikiLeaks’ 2010-2011 release of confidential cables.
Paul Rogers, a professor of peace studies at Bradford University, UK, told London’s Old Bailey Court that the timing of the US prosecution was linked to Assange’s political views and Trump’s hostility towards him.
“The evidence is very supportive … this appears to be a political process,” said Rogers.
Assange and WikiLeaks enraged the U.S. government a decade ago for releasing thousands of classified American documents, but he has not been charged with any crime at the time.
His supporters see him as an advocate of free speech, which exposes Washington’s abuse of power and hypocrisy, and see his prosecution as a threat to journalism. US authorities say he ruthlessly endangered the lives of sources with his releases.
Rogers said the Trump administration viewed Assange as a “political enemy” because of his opinion. Assange’s defense team argues that the US case is politically motivated, which will prevent his extradition.
“The opinions and views of Mr. Assange, which have been shown in his long-standing words and actions with the WikiLeaks organization, can be seen as very clear that he is in the crosshairs of the dispute with the philosophy of the Trump administration,” Rogers said in his Statement to the court.
James Lewis, the United States attorney, denied claims that the case was politically motivated, saying that U.S. federal attorneys were forbidden to use political opinion in their decisions.
“I’m not saying they are acting badly,” said Rogers. “I am saying that on another level, a political decision was made to investigate this further after it had expired for eight years.”
Assange was warned by the judge Tuesday that he would be removed from the courtroom and put on trial in his absence if he interrupted the trial after Assange yelled “nonsense” at Lewis.
(This story was not edited by GossipMantri staff and is automatically generated from a syndicated feed.)