The supporters of Assange have gathered outside the courthouse in London

Supporters of Julian Assange have gathered outside the Royal Woolich Court building in East London, adjacent to the high-security prison Belmarsh, which houses the founder of Wikileaks.

On Monday, here begins hearings on the extradition of Assange to the United States, the trial could last several years.

Some supporters of the founder of Wikileaks arrived at the courthouse in advance and set up tents near the fence. Picket gathered at the entrance of the court, the participants held posters “Freedom of Assange” and “No extradition” and shouted relevant slogans. Among the supporters of Assange, there are many foreigners, particularly the French. Many put on masks with the face of Assange, while others have masks of the Anonymous movement.

Dozens of journalists from all over the world also gathered in front of the court building.

The hearing starts at 10:00. Assange is expected to be taken to the courtroom directly from the prison, which is connected to the court building. This stage of the hearing will last for one week, during which the parties will present their main arguments. An additional three weeks of hearings will be held from May to early June, during which the parties will present evidence and call witnesses in the case. The court’s decision is expected some time after that, but it is unlikely that the trial will be concluded: depending on the verdict, one of the parties is expected to appeal, which will take a long time to complete. The case may reach the Supreme Court, the defence side previously reported. In total, the trial will take several years.

In parallel, the defense of the founder of WikiLeaks is working to ensure that he received political asylum in France.

Assange, accused of sexual harassment and rape in Sweden in 2010, has been in hiding since June 2012 at the Ecuadorian embassy in London for fear of extradition to the Nordic country. In the morning of 11 April 2019, he was detained at the request of the United States. A court in London found him guilty of violating bail conditions and sentenced him to 11 months in prison. The extradition hearing began on 2 May last year.

U.S. authorities reported at the end of May that new charges were brought against Assange in 17 episodes of violation of the law on espionage and disclosure of classified information. If extradited to the U.S., Assange faces up to 175 years in prison.

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