Julian Assange is warned over outbursts from the dock after interrupting evidence of human rights lawyer at his extradition hearing
- WikiLeaks founder warned his extradition hearing will continue without him
- Furious judge issued the stark warning about Assange speaking from the dock
- Assange interrupted evidence of US human rights lawyer Clive Stafford Smith
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was today warned his extradition hearing will continue without him if he continues to speak from the dock.
The judge, Vanessa Baraitser, briefly adjourned proceedings at the Old Bailey after the 49-year-old interrupted the evidence of US human rights lawyer Clive Stafford Smith this morning.
The outburst could not be heard by journalists, who are following proceedings on a videolink from another court.
Australian human rights lawyer Jennifer Robinson (left) with Stella Moris (right) the partner Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, outside the Old Bailey today
Assange’s father John Shipton outside court today. His 49-year-old son faces 18 charges including plotting to hack computers and conspiring to obtain and disclose national defence information
‘The witness must be allowed to give their evidence free from interruption,’ the judge told Assange after he was allowed to speak with his lawyers.
‘You will hear things, no doubt many things, you disagree with during these proceedings.’
She added: ‘If you interrupt proceedings it is open to me to proceed in your absence. This is obviously something I would not wish to do.
‘You must allow the witness to speak without interruption so they can give their evidence.’
The defence witness described how WikiLeaks helped expose alleged US war crimes in Afghanistan and shone a light on Guantanamo Bay.
Mr Stafford Smith, who founded the Reprieve organisation, said: ‘I say this more in sadness than anger. I would never have believed that my government would do what it did.
‘We are talking about criminal offences of torture, kidnapping, rendition, holding people without trial.’
He said leaks had revealed the US allegations against clients held in Guantanamo, which he was then able to prove as ‘nonsense’.
tStella Moris, the partner of the Wikileaks founder, arrives at the Old Bailey today
Editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks, Kristinn Hrafnsson, right, was at court to support Assange
But cross-examining, James Lewis QC, for the US, suggested that Assange was not being prosecuted in the US for publishing cables, which had previously been reported in the New York Times and Washington Post, or hundreds of thousands of others.
He said: ‘Mr Assange is not being prosecuted for publishing those cables or anything other than the documents which contain the names of informants which put their lives at risk.’
Assange has been held on remand in Belmarsh prison since last September after serving a 50-week jail sentence for breaching his bail conditions while he was in the Ecuadorian embassy in London for almost seven years.
On Monday, he was arrested in the cells at the Old Bailey over a new US indictment lodged in June, including 18 charges of plotting to hack computers and conspiring to obtain and disclose national defence information.
If convicted, he faces a maximum possible penalty of 175 years in jail.
The hearing, which is expected to last for around four weeks, continues.
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