Julian Assange faced a London court sporting a clean-shaven look but was denied a bid to delay his extradition to the US for a full hearing regarding spying charges. Picture: AFP
Julian Assange faced a London court sporting a clean-shaven look but was denied a bid to delay his extradition to the US for a full hearing regarding spying charges. Picture: AFP

Assange’s stunning move to block Australia’s help

JULIAN Assange has instructed British authorities to stop releasing any information about him to the Australian High Commission in London.

Consular officials have written to the Wikileaks leader four times since the order was made on June 14, but have not received a response.

"The High Commission continues to reach out to Mr Assange to offer consular assistance," Department of Foreign Affairs assistant secretary Andrew Todd told a Senate estimates hearing on Thursday.

"There has been no reply to any of those approaches." Australian diplomats wrote to Mr Assange's lawyer last week, requesting that she raise with him their offer of consular assistance.

"We have not heard back from that particular approach," Mr Todd said.

It comes after Assange has complained he was battling a "super power with unlimited resources" who was trying to steal his "children's DNA".

In an extraordinary statement at Westminster Magistrates Court in London this week, the WikiLeaks founder said he was being treated unfairly.

 

 

Courts artist sketch by Elizabeth Cook showing Julian Assange as he appeared at Westminster Magistrates' Court in London for a hearing related to his extradition to the US. Picture: AP
Courts artist sketch by Elizabeth Cook showing Julian Assange as he appeared at Westminster Magistrates' Court in London for a hearing related to his extradition to the US. Picture: AP

Assange claimed he could not access documents to defend himself against extradition to the United States on spying charges that carry a maximum 175-year jail term.

The 48-year-old was in court for a case management hearing, where his lawyers argued they needed more time to prepare his case.

Assange was clean shaven, wearing a dark suit jacket, light blue jumper and white collared shirt.

His hair was slicked back and he had paperwork with him.

Assange was better presented than a previous videolink hearing where he had a scruffy beard and turned up in a sloppy jumper and tracksuit pants.

District Judge Vanessa Baraitser rejected a three-month extension, instead granting Assange's lawyers two months.

Judge Baraitser then asked Assange if he understood what had happened during the hearing.

He said a "super power has had 10 years to work on this case with unlimited resources.

"I can't research anything, I can't access any of my writing. I can't think properly."

Assange, whose lawyers claimed the US was spying on him, also said the US government was trying to "steal my children's DNA".

"It's very difficult where I am to do anything," he added in reference to Belmarsh prison where he is being held.

He claimed that the US was "saying whistleblowers and journalists are enemies of the state."

Assange also made reference to the "interior of my life with my psychologist."

Assange's barrister Mark Summers told the court that he feared the United States was listening to conversations the WikiLeaks founder was having with lawyers.

"The American state has been actively engaged in intruding on privileged discussions between Mr Assange and his lawyers," he said.

 

Wikileaks Founder Julian Assange has been denied a delay to extradite him to US to face conspiracy charges after his whistleblowing website WikiLeaks published classified US documents. Picture: Getty Images
Wikileaks Founder Julian Assange has been denied a delay to extradite him to US to face conspiracy charges after his whistleblowing website WikiLeaks published classified US documents. Picture: Getty Images

Mr Summers also claimed there had been break-ins at legal offices.

But James Lewis, QC, for the prosecution, strongly opposed any delays to the case.

He said the three month request was "simply plucked out of the air" and that it was "just a guesstimate".

The WikiLeaks founder is facing a total of 18 spying and computer hacking charges in the United States that carry a total maximum 175-year jail term.

The US claims of 90,000 Afghan war documents, 400,000 Iraq war documents and 250,000 US State Department cables.

Mr Lewis claimed that he also published the names of local informants that the US used during the war exposing them to the risk of torture or death.

Assange has always claimed he was acting as a journalist and that it was a matter of free speech.

The Australian spent also seven years in the Ecuadorean embassy in London to avoid extradition to Sweden over a rape allegation, which he has also denied.

He has said he feared Sweden would hand him to US authorities.

Assange was arrested in April and has been locked up in the maximum security Belmarsh prison in southeast London on a 50-week sentence for breaching bail by hiding in the embassy.

He was refused parole at a recent hearing because of fears he would flee England.

The next hearing date was listed for November 18 for a call over date to confirm his imprisonment, where Assange was due to appear via videolink.

A full hearing is due in February 2020.

stephen.drill@news.co.uk