Assange Seems 'Confused' at Hearing

Judge denies request to push back his trial
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 21, 2019 12:22 PM CDT
Assange Seems 'Confused' at Hearing
Courts artist sketch by Elizabeth Cook showing Julian Assange facing District Judge Vanessa Baraitser at Westminster Magistrates' Court in London, Monday Oct. 21, 2019, for a hearing related to his extradition to the United States.   (Elizabeth Cook/PA via AP)

Julian Assange appeared, in Reuters' words, "confused" Monday during an extradition hearing in a London courtroom. The 48-year-old WikiLeaks founder "mumbled and stuttered for several seconds as he gave his name and date of birth," the news outlet says; later, when the judge asked him whether he knew what was happening, he said "not exactly" and that he can't "think properly." He added: "I don’t understand how this is equitable. I can’t research anything, I can’t access any of my writing. It’s very difficult where I am." Assange spent nearly seven years in Ecuador's embassy in London before his asylum was withdrawn in April and he was arrested for skipping bail in 2012; he was sentenced to 50 weeks. Meanwhile, the trial to determine whether he will be extradited to the US was set for February of next year.

At Monday's hearing, Assange's lawyer argued for the extradition trial to be pushed back three months due to the nature of the case and the "mammoth" amount of time it would take to prepare: "The evidence in this case would test the limits of most lawyers," he said, and added it's also difficult to talk to Assange since he has no access to a computer. The judge denied the request. From the AP's description of the court hearing: "Assange defiantly raised a fist to supporters who jammed the public gallery in Westminster Magistrates Court for a rare view of their hero. He appears to have lost weight but looked healthy, although he spoke very softly and at times seemed despondent and confused." Concerns about his health, mental state, and hygiene have been raised recently. (Read more Julian Assange stories.)

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