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A Mumbling Assange Tells Judge That He ‘Can’t Think Properly’

By Bloomberg 21 October 2019
Caption
A file photograph showing WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange shows an issue of the British daily newspaper The Guardian during a press conference at the Frontline Club in London, Britain, 26 July 2010. EPA/STR

(Bloomberg) --A mumbling Julian Assange told a London judge that he didn’t understand a court proceeding Monday as the WikiLeaks founder complained that his isolation in a British prison made it hard to fight the U.S. extradition case against him.

In rambling, often inaudible comments, the 48-year-old said he wasn’t able to do research from his cell. The American government is seeking to bring him to the U.S. to face charges that he endangered national security by conspiring to obtain and disclose classified information.

Assange has been in Belmarsh prison since he was evicted from the Ecuadorian embassy in London in April. The Australian has been in hiding or in prison for seven years since he first jumped bail to avoid questioning in a Swedish sexual-assault case.

“It’s very hard where I am to do anything,” Assange, dressed in a sweater and jacket, said in court. “This is not equitable, what’s happening here.”

His comments came at the end of a hearing where his lawyers sought extra time to fight the American charges, arguing that political crimes aren’t covered by the U.K.-U.S. extradition treaty.

Judge Vanessa Baraitser set the full hearing for late February.

After Assange said he couldn’t understand, Baraitser told him that his lawyer could explain everything to him.

But Assange continued to ramble.

“I can’t think properly,” he said.

To contact the reporter on this story:
Anthony Aarons in London at [email protected]

To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Christopher Elser at [email protected]

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