WikiLeaks founder Assange needs more time to speak to lawyer, court told

Photographers take pictures of WikiLeaks' founder Julian Assange as he leaves Westminster Magistrates Court in London, Britain January 13, 2020. (Reuters)
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Updated 13 January 2020

WikiLeaks founder Assange needs more time to speak to lawyer, court told

LONDON: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is not getting the time he needs with his legal team to discuss his fight against extradition to the United States, causing delays to the case, his lawyer told a British court on Monday.
After skipping bail in Britain, Assange spent seven years holed up in Ecuador’s embassy in London before he was dragged out by police in April last year.
He is being held in a British jail pending the US extradition case, having served a sentence for skipping bail.
The United States wants him extradited to face 18 charges including conspiring to hack government computers and violating an espionage law. He could spend decades in prison if convicted.
The 48-year-old Australian appeared for Monday’s hearing at Westminster Magistrates Court wearing glasses and a dark blazer over a light top. He spoke only to confirm his name and date of birth to the judge and saluted his supporters in the public gallery at the beginning and end of the hearing.
Assange’s lawyer Gareth Peirce said difficulty in getting time with Assange had delayed the case, telling the court: “This slippage in the timetable is extremely worrying.”
He fled to Ecuador’s embassy in 2012 to avoid being sent to Sweden to face sex crimes accusations that were dropped last year.
He says the US charges against him are a political attempt to silence journalists and publishers, and that the Swedish allegations were part of a plot to catch him.
Assange made global headlines in early 2010 when WikiLeaks published a classified US military video showing a 2007 attack by Apache helicopters in Baghdad that killed a dozen people, including two Reuters news staff.
Judge Vanessa Baraitser said Assange could have time on Monday to speak to his lawyer and appear in court again later in the day. In that second sitting, Peirce said that she had only had an hour to speak to Assange.
Assange’s next hearing is scheduled for Jan. 23. He is due to appear via video link from London’s Belmarsh prison.
Full extradition proceedings are expected to commence in February.


Man beaten with bats over face mask dispute in Paris suburb

Updated 30 min 43 sec ago

Man beaten with bats over face mask dispute in Paris suburb

  • France has seen scattered incidents involving resistance to wearing masks

PARIS: A resident of a Paris suburb says he was beaten with baseball bats because he asked a fellow laundromat patron to wear a face mask – a requirement in all indoor public places in France to fight resurgent coronavirus infections.
Surveillance video of the attack published Tuesday by Le Parisien newspaper shows two people with bats and two others attacking a masked man inside the laundry facility then fleeing, leaving him face down on the floor.
The victim, identified only as Augustin, told BFM television that he was beaten because he had asked one of the attackers to don a mask when he entered the laundromat in the town of Soisy-sous-Montmorency north of Paris.
“I had a mask, I asked this person to put on his mask,” Augustin said. “He acted as if he didn’t hear, I insisted. He called his brother or his cousin or someone he knew who was outside ... they were threatening, insulting.”
Minutes later he saw two people enter with baseball bats. “I received blows on my back, on my temple, on my skull.”
Le Parisien reported that he filed a police complaint. The identities of the attackers are unclear.
France has seen scattered incidents involving resistance to wearing masks, which are required outdoors in several cities and towns as well.
In the most dramatic case, a French bus driver was beaten to death after he asked passengers to wear face masks aboard his vehicle. The case scandalized France and drew condemnation from the government. Four people have been charged in the death.