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Supporters of Julian Assange outside the Royal Courts of Justice in London

Photo: Adrian Dennis / AFP

In the fight against his impending extradition to the USA, Julian Assange must continue to wait. A hearing in a London court ended on Wednesday without a decision. The judges want to decide at a later date whether the WikiLeaks founder is entitled to a full appeal process. For the 52-year-old Australian, it would be the last chance to defend himself against his deportation in a British court. The US Department of Justice wants to try Assange on espionage charges.

A lawyer on Wednesday rejected allegations that the US was persecuting Assange because of his political views. Instead, Clair Dobbin argued for the US side that Assange had endangered other people by publishing unredacted documents. It was not a “blunder” or “mistake,” but rather huge amounts of uncensored material had been published.

Washington accuses Assange of having, together with whistleblower Chelsea Manning, stolen and published secret material from US military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, thereby endangering the lives of US informants. If convicted in the USA, Assange could face up to 175 years in prison. Assange's lawyers, on the other hand, see the prosecution as a retaliatory action by Washington because WikiLeaks also uncovered war crimes through its publications.

Last resort: European Court of Human Rights

In front of London's Royal Courts of Justice on Wednesday, demonstrators again demanded that Assange be released. They held a banner and posters with slogans like “Free Assange” and “Journalism is not a crime.”

The two-day hearing began on Tuesday. It is not known when the court will announce a decision. If Assange's appeal is rejected in London, he would still have to go to the European Court of Human Rights. His wife Stella Assange had announced that his team would immediately file an application for an injunction to prevent immediate extradition. But there is concern that the British government could ignore such an order. Stella Assange also said in advance that she feared for his life because of the expected harsh prison conditions in the USA and her husband's unstable psyche.