Britain on Monday starts hearing Washington’s extradition request for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in a test case of media freedoms in the digital age and the limits of US justice.
A ruling against Assange in the case could see the 48-year-old Australian jailed for 175 years if convicted on all 17 US Espionage Act charges and one count of computer hacking he faces.
Each stems from his site’s release in 2010 of a trove of classified State Department and Pentagon files detailing the realities of the US campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq.
One video from 2007 showed an Apache helicopter attack in which US soldiers gunned down two Reuters reporters and nine Iraqi civilians in broad daylight in Baghdad.
The files also disclosed the secret identities of diplomats and government agents in hostile environments — as well as locals who risked their lives by cooperating with the United States.
These names were redacted by the Western newspapers with which WikiLeaks initially worked.
But a falling out with their editors prompted Assange to release hundreds of thousands of files in their original form.
The case was injected with still more intrigue when the defence claimed US President Donald Trump promised to issue a pardon if Assange denied Russia leaked the emails of his 2016 election rival’s campaign.
Assange is additionally shadowed by a rape allegation and a sexual assault claim that stem from his 2010 visit to Sweden.
He denied everything and called the case a legal pretext for Sweden to extradite him to the United States.
Assange agreed to attend hearings into the charges in London and his legal battles crossed borders yet again.
Read more via 24 Matins/The Financial Times