WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange yesterday told a court he would oppose extradition to the United States as the legal process began in London, a day after he was jailed for breaching his bail conditions in a former case.
He appeared via videolink at Westminster Magistrates Court, where a lawyer for the US authorities briefly set out his alleged involvement in the release of classified documents.
“I do not wish to surrender myself for extradition for doing journalism that has won many awards and protected many people,” Assange told the judge, who set the next hearing for May 30.
The Australian was jailed on Wednesday for 50 weeks for breaking his bail conditions in 2012, when he fled to Ecuador’s London embassy to avoid extradition to Sweden.
He was accused of sexual assault and rape but strongly denied the claims, saying they were linked to the whistleblowing work of WikiLeaks.
Assange feared they were a pretext to get him in custody and eventually transfer him to the United States to face prosecution.
He was dragged out of the embassy and arrested on April 11 after Quito gave him up. The Swedish claims had been dropped, but he was later that day convicted of skipping bail.
The 47-year-old was subsequently confronted with a warrant for extradition to the United States. The US indictment charges him with “conspiracy” for working with former US Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to crack a password stored on Department of Defence computers in March 2010.