Monday 21 October 2019 2:41 pm

Julian Assange’s lawyer warns of kidnap plot as court denies extradition delay

A lawyer for Julian Assange has accused the US of trying to “kidnap and harm” the Wikileaks founder, as a judge denied a request to delay his extradition.

Assange is facing extradition to the US where he is wanted for 18 charges including spying and conspiring to hack government computers.

Read more: Julian Assange extradition hearing set for February 2020

But Mark Summers QC, representing the controversial Wikileaks boss, accused the US of “intruding” on conversations between Assange and his lawyers while he was holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy.

These intrusions included “hooded men breaking into offices”, Summers argued, according to Sky News.

The comments came during a hearing at Westminster Magistrates’ Court today, where Assange’s lawyers requested a three-month delay to the extradition process.

Summers said fears of kidnapping were among the reasons why the legal proceedings should be pushed back.

However, judge Vanessa Baraitser rejected the request and ruled that the full five-day hearing will go ahead in February as planned.

Assange rose to prominence in 2010 when he published leaked video footage of a US military attack in Iraq. His website has also published hundreds of thousands of classified US diplomatic cables.

While his supporters say Assange is a champion of free speech, critics have accused him of putting national security at risk and colluding with Russia.

Read more: Sajid Javid signs US extradition request for Julian Assange

Assange took refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in London in 2012 in a bid to escape extradition to Sweden on sexual assault charges. He remained there for seven years before being dragged out in April and jailed for skipping bail.

While Assange has now served his 50-week jail sentence, he remains in custody while his extradition case continues.

Main image credit: Getty