18 new allegations against Wikileaks founder Julian Assange and he faces US extradition

Julian Assange, the founder not WikiLeaks, has failed to get new allegations against him thrown out as he battles extradition to the US.

Assange, 49, appeared at the Old Bailey in London after being held for months on remand at high-security Belmarsh Prison.

He was re-arrested in the court’s cells on Monday over new charges contained in a US indictment.

It details a further 18 charges, lodged in June, which accuse him of plotting to hack computers and obtain and disclose national defense information.

They alleged that he conspired with army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to crack a scrambled password, known as “hash”, to a classified US defense department computer.

The charges also offer further details of alleged hacking plotters that Assange and his WikiLeaks colleagues are said to have recruited.

The 49-year-old spoke only to state he “does not consent to extradition” and confirm his name.

Assange, who is wanted in the US for publishing hundreds of thousands of classified documents in 2010 and 2011, was clean-shaven with short hair and wore glasses, a dark suit, maroon tie and white shirt.

If convicted, he faces a maximum possible sentence of 175 years in jail.

His lawyer, Mark Summers QC, said the “fresh allegations at the 11th hour” were brought without warning or explanation, which meant they had no time to prepare a response.

He highlighted the difficulties Assange faced in speaking to his lawyers in the midst of ongoing restrictions.

“It would be an impossible task for the defense to deal with these fresh allegations in any meaningful way in the time that has been afforded to them, and that time is a matter of weeks in respect of which we are provided absolutely no explanation for the late arrival of these matters.”

He added: “What is happening is abnormal, unfair and liable to create injustice if allowed to continue.”

But District Judge Vanessa Baraitser rejected the defense’s bid to “excise” the allegations, saying: “These are issues which must take place in the context of considering the extradition request and not before it.”

Outside court, hundreds of protesters gathered in support of Assange, including his father John Shipton and fashion designer Vivienne Westwood.

She said: “I’m an activist, I am very frightened, I’ve lost days and years of sleep worrying about Julian Assange.

“Julian Assange is the trigger; he is shining the light on all the corruption in the world.”

His father described the proceedings as an “abuse trial”, which his defense claims has been targeted by Donald Trump’s re-election campaign for “political reasons”.

His partner, Stella Moris, who he shares two children with, was in the public gallery after delivering an 80,000-signature petition against his extradition to Downing Street.

Dozens of witnesses are expected to be called to give evidence at the Old Bailey over the four-week hearing, with the judgment likely to be delivered at a later date.

Assange has been on remand in Belmarsh Prison since last September after serving a 50-week sentence for breaching bail conditions while he was in London’s Ecuadorian embassy for nearly seven years.

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