LONDON (Reuters) - A lawyer for the United States told a British court on Monday that Julian Assange is wanted for crimes that put at risk the lives of people who had helped the West and that journalism is no excuse for criminality.
The 48-year-old is wanted by the United States on 18 criminal counts of conspiring to hack government computers and violating an espionage law and could spend decades in prison if convicted.
Lawyer James Lewis, representing the United States in the extradition hearing, said Assange had conspired with Chelsea Manning to hack Department of Defense computers.
Lewis said Assange had also disseminated unredacted material which put the lives of sources at risk. In doing so, Assange had identified the names of informants, journalists, dissidents and others in Iraq and Afghanistan who had given help to the U.S. and its allies, Lewis said.
Lewis said the defense claim that Assange might receive a jail term of 170 years was hyperbole.
Reporting by Michael Holden; editing by Guy Faulconbridge