Julian Assange's final attempt to avoid extradition to the U.S. began Tuesday with a two-day hearing. The WikiLeaks founder has been indicted on over a dozen counts of espionage in relation to leaked intelligence documents published in 2010. Assange, who is an Australian national, is responsible for publishing and exposing classified and confidential documents including Hillary Clinton's 2016 campaign emails, Iraq and Afghanistan war documents, and the operating manual for Guantanamo Bay prison camp. And in 2017, while withholding specific details to protect American national security, Assange exposed the CIA for running an illegal spying program.
A European arrest warrant was issued in 2010 by Swedish officials. In 2012 Assange fled to Ecuador's embassy in London where he lived until 2019. He was arrested and dragged out of the embassy in April of 2019 on a U.S. charge of hacking military computers. He has been confined in a London prison ever since, contesting the United States government's extradition efforts with the British courts.
He faces 17 charges related to the Espionage Act of 1917. If prosecuted in the U.S., Assange could face 175 years in prison as a result of a politically motivated trial. Assange can request the European Court of Human Rights block his extradition if the British High Court rules in favor to extradite.
The United States government has criminalized truth telling. To Assange's advocates, he is a hero.