- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Julian Assange is being treated like a “terrorist” while on trial in London fighting a U.S. extradition request, the editor-in-chief of his WikiLeaks website said Wednesday.

Kristinn Hrafnsson, an Icelandic journalist who succeeded Mr. Assange in 2018 to serve as the site’s top editor, made the comment on day three of his colleague’s extradition trial.

In an interview shared on Twitter by a group supportive of the wanted WikiLeaks publisher, Mr. Hrafnsson echoed complaints raised in court a day earlier by Mr. Assange’s lawyer.

Julian is treated as a terrorist,” said Mr. Hrafnsson. “He is strip-searched, he is handcuffed 10, 11 times a day, his material is taken away from him. It’s totally unacceptable.”

The treatment is “taking a strain” on Mr. Assange, who has been attending the hearings while confined to a bulletproof “glass cage” in the courtroom, Mr. Hrafnsson added.

Mr. Assange, a 48-year-old Australian, is wanted in the U.S. for charges related to running WikiLeaks, including 17 criminal counts of violating the Espionage Act of 1917.

Extradition proceedings started Monday at Woolwich Crown Court and are slated to continue throughout the week before a second round of hearings is held in May.

Edward Fitzgerald, a British attorney for Mr. Assange, raised concerns in court Tuesday over treatment he alleged his client endured following the first day of hearings this week.

Mr. Assange, his lawyer said, was handcuffed nearly a dozen times, stripped naked twice, deprived of his case files and placed in five different cells after Monday’s hearing ended.

Complaining to Mr. Assange’s presiding judge, Mr. Fitzgerald argued the treatment could amount to contempt of court and asked her to intervene, attendees reported afterward.

District Judge Vanessa Baraitser said she could not ask jailers to reverse course unless and until the treatment prevents Mr. Assange from participating in proceedings, however.

The U.S. Department of Justice has charged Mr. Assange in connection with receiving and publishing classified military and diplomatic documents provided to WikiLeaks in 2010.

Mr. Assange, who has argued he acted as a journalist, faces a maximum sentence of 175 years in prison if extradited to the U.S. and convicted of all counts.

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