LONDON (CBS NEWS) – Wikileaks founder Julian Assange appeared in a London court on Monday for an extradition hearing after months of delay due to the coronavirus lockdown.
Assange is seeking to avoid extradition to the United States to face criminal charges over the activities of his WikiLeaks website.
The U.S. authorities accuse Australian-born Assange, 49, of conspiring to hack government computers and of violating an espionage law in connection with the release of confidential cables by WikiLeaks in 2010-2011.
During Monday’s hearing, Assange formally declined to be extradited to face a superseding indictment issued by U.S. authorities in June.
His legal travails in Britain date to 2010, when he began fighting an attempt to extradite him to Sweden to answer questions about allegations of sexual assault, which have since been dropped. In June 2012, facing imminent extradition, he sought refuge in the Ecuadorean embassy.
He spent seven years holed up there. His partner, Stella Moris, revealed this year that he had fathered two children while inside the embassy.
After Ecuador revoked his asylum, he was dragged out of the embassy in April 2019 and served a short British prison sentence for violating bail terms. He remains jailed pending the outcome of the U.S. extradition request.