The question of whether or not Julian Assange will be extradited to the United States is still unanswered after a London court ruled today that the WikiLeaks founder will face a five-day hearing on the matter in 2020.
Earlier this week, the UKs home secretary Sajid Javid approved an extradition request from the US for Assange to face criminal charges. But the final authority to obey the request lies with the courts, which will hold a full hearing some time after February 24th next year.
As Javid said on Thursday: I want to see justice done at all times and weve got a legitimate extradition request, so Ive signed it, but the final decision is now with the courts.
Assange faces 18 charges related to the leaking of classified information published by WikiLeaks. US prosecutors allege that he conspired with former US Army private Chelsea Manning to obtain the material, which included State Department diplomatic cables and documents on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The 47-year-old Assange was too ill to appear at his last hearing in London, but spoke in court today via video-link, reports Sky News. He told the court that 175 years of my life is effectively at stake, and defended the actions of WikiLeaks, saying that the website was not involved in hacking classified information and is nothing but a publisher.
Mark Summers QC, the lawyer representing Assange, said the extradition case made by the US represents an outrageous and full-frontal assault on journalistic rights.
For the last seven years, Assange has been lodged in the Ecuadorian embassy in London after the possibility of prosecution in a sexual assault case in Sweden. He was ousted earlier this year and has since been serving a 50-week jail sentence in the UKs Belmarsh prison for skipping bail.