Julian Assange was handcuffed 11 times, stripped naked twice and had his case files confiscated after the first day of his extradition hearing, according to his lawyers, who complained of interference in his ability to take part.
Their appeal to the judge overseeing the trial at Woolwich crown court in south-east London was also supported by legal counsel for the US government, who said it was essential the WikiLeaks founder be given a fair trial.
Edward Fitzgerald QC, acting for Assange, said the case files, which the prisoner was reading in court on Monday, were confiscated by guards when he returned to prison later that night and that he was put in five cells.
The judge, Vanessa Baraitser, replied that she did not have the legal power to comment or rule on Assange’s conditions but encouraged the defence team to formally raise the matter with the prison.
The details emerged on the second day of Assange’s extradition hearing, during which his legal team denied that the Wikileaks founder had “knowingly placed lives at risk” by publishing unredacted US government files.
The court was told Wikileaks had entered into a collaboration with the Guardian, El Pais, the New York Times and other media outlets in order to publish secret cables in 2010.
Mark Summers, QC, claimed the unredacted files had been published because a password to this material had appeared in a Guardian book on the affair. “The gates got opened not by Assange or Wikileaks but by another member of that partnership,” he said.
The Guardian denied the claim.
“The Guardian has made clear it is opposed to the extradition of Julian Assange. However, it is entirely wrong to say the Guardian’s 2011 Wikileaks book led to the publication of unredacted US government files,” a spokesman said.
“The book contained a password which the authors had been told by Julian Assange was temporary and would expire and be deleted in a matter of hours. The book also contained no details about the whereabouts of the files. No concerns were expressed by Assange or Wikileaks about security being compromised when the book was published in February 2011. Wikileaks published the unredacted files in September 2011.”
The Guardian’s former investigations editor David Leigh, who wrote the book with Luke Harding, said: “It’s a complete invention that I had anything to do with Julian Assange’s own publication decisions. His cause is not helped by people making things up.”
Assange, 48, is wanted in the US to face 18 charges of attempted hacking and breaches of the Espionage Act. They relate to the publication a decade ago of hundreds of thousands of diplomatic cables and files covering areas including US activities in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The Australian, who could face a 175-year prison sentence if found guilty, is accused of working with the former US army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to leak classified documents.
The hearing continues.
Source: The Guardian