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Assange extradition hearing postponed due to illness

By Clyde Hughes
Wikileaks co-founder Julian Assange arrives at Southwark Crown Court in London on May 1. Photo by Neil Hall/EPA-EFE
Wikileaks co-founder Julian Assange arrives at Southwark Crown Court in London on May 1. Photo by Neil Hall/EPA-EFE

May 30 (UPI) -- An extradition hearing for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange Thursday was delayed after his attorneys told a judge he was too ill to appear.

Westminster Magistrates Court judge Emma Arbuthnot postponed the hearing until June 12 after defense attorney Gareth Pierce said Assange couldn't participate. Arbuthnot said the June hearing will take place at the Belmarsh prison where Assange is located.

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Thursday's appearance was expected to be a procedural hearing as Assange fights extradition to the United States.

WikiLeaks said Tuesday authorities moved Assange to the hospital wing of Belmarsh because of deteriorating health.

"Assange's health had already significantly deteriorated after seven years inside the Ecuadorian embassy, under conditions that were incompatible with basic human rights," it said.

"During the seven weeks in Belmarsh his health has continued to deteriorate and he has dramatically lost weight. The decision of prison authorities to move him to the ward speaks for itself."

A U.S. federal grand jury indicted Assange last week on 17 new charges of violating the Espionage Act. The superseding indictment accuses Assange of working with former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to obtain and publicly release classified information, including the names of U.S. operatives.

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London police arrested Assange in April after he'd lived in the Ecuadorian Embassy there for seven years. He's charged with conspiring to commit unlawful computer intrusion, which carries a maximum five years in prison.

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