LONDON (Reuters) - Julian Assange appeared before a British court for a fourth day on Thursday to fight an extradition request from the United States which wants to put the 48-year-old WikiLeaks founder on trial for hacking government computers and violating an espionage law.
The first part of the hearing has now ended, with the second part resuming in May.
Below are main developments and quotes from the hearing at Woolwich Crown Court:
* Assange was given a pair of headphones to help him hear proceedings better after he complained that he was struggling to follow proceedings. The court briefly adjourned to allow him to see if they help him hear. His lawyer, Edward Fitzgerald, said “We will give them a try.” Assange sat in the dock with the headphones on but took them off after about 30 minutes.
The judge later rejected a formal request for Assange to be released from the glass dock at the back of the court so he could sit with his lawyers to better hear the proceedings.
“I will keep these measures under review to ensure the proceedings are fair,” she said. “It is quite apparent over the past four days that you have had no difficulty communicating with your legal team,” she told him.
* James Lewis, a lawyer for the U.S. government, disputed arguments by Assange’s lawyers that he cannot be sent to the United States because a treaty between the two countries bans extradition for political offences.
Lewis said it did not appear Assange was trying to bring the government down.
“It can’t possibly be said that there is a political struggle in existence between the American government and opposing factions,” he told the court.
* Assange’s lawyer Fitzgerald said his client is protected by privileges in the U.S.-UK extradition treaty because he was trying to change U.S. government policy.
Fitzgerald said Assange did indeed change U.S. government policy after publishing classified information about Guantanamo Bay and the actions of the U.S. military in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“WikiLeaks didn’t just seek to induce change, it did induce change,” he said.
* The extradition hearing will not sit as planned on Friday and so has temporarily concluded before re-starting again on May 18. In the intervening period, the court was told there would be case-management hearings on March 25 and April 7.
Reporting by Andrew MacAskill; editing by Stephen Addison/Guy Faulconbridge
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