News World Julian Assange to stay in dock during hearing

Julian Assange to stay in dock during hearing

A sketch of Julian Assange sitting in the docks in a London court on Monday (UK time). Photo: AAP
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Julian Assange’s father has slammed a British judge’s refusal to let the WikiLeaks founder sit with his lawyers at his extradition hearing in London.

Australian John Shipton says his son is experiencing “psychological torture” as he bids against US extradition in Woolwich Crown Court.

He says District Judge Vanessa Baraitser denying Assange’s request to leave the dock and sit with his lawyers in the court is “another failure of due process”.

“You see that this ends up as a continuance of the psychological torture of Julian that’s continued (to be) ramped up over 10 years,” Mr Shipton said.

“So the beginning of the week saw Julian strip-searched three (sic) times, handcuffed nine (sic) times, put in five different holding cells and his court reports and court work confiscated by prison authorities.

“Ending the week, as we’ve explained, (there was) refusal of the judge to allow him to move out of the glass box into the body of the court so he could be equally armed as due process requires.”

Judge Baraitser ruled that Assange didn’t need leave the dock and it was “proportionate and sensible” for him to privately speak with his lawyers in the holding cells.

The judge was prepared to allow regular stoppages so he could do that even if the three-week hearing stretched out to six weeks.

“If that results from the current three weeks for which they are listed stretching to a much longer period then I am very happy to accommodate that,” Judge Baraitser said.

Defence barrister Mark Summers earlier argued that defendants are still in custody of the court even if they weren’t physically in “that glass cabinet”.

“One can be in custody even if one is out wandering in the concourse, enjoying the delights of the court canteen,” Mr Summers said.

WikiLeaks editor Kristinn Hrafnsson claimed the ruling was written before the application had even been made, indicating Assange wouldn’t get a fair trial.

“And I am absolutely outraged,” Hrafnsson said outside court.

“Even in America accused murders sit beside their lawyers in the courtroom without shackles.”

Assange has been charged in the US with 17 counts of violating the Espionage Act and one of conspiring to commit computer intrusion over the leaking and publishing of thousands of classified US diplomatic and military files in 2010.

The charges carry a total sentence of 175 years’ imprisonment.