WikiLeaks founder Assange has unsuitable computer in jail, court told

FILE PHOTO: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange leaves Southwark Crown Court after being sentenced in London, Britain, May 1, 2019. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls/

LONDON (Reuters) - WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is struggling to prepare for his case fighting extradition to the United States because he has been given an unsuitable computer in prison, his lawyer told a British court on Monday.

Assange, 48, who spent seven years holed up in Ecuador’s embassy before he was dragged out in April, is wanted in the United States to face 18 counts including conspiring to hack government computers and violating an espionage law. He could spend decades in prison if convicted.

Appearing at London’s Westminster Magistrates’ Court via video link, Assange spoke only to confirm his name and date of birth in a hearing that lasted just a few minutes.

His lawyer, Gareth Peirce, told the court that her client was unable to adequately prepare for his “very challenging case” as the computer he had been given was not suitable.

“After months of battle he was provided with a computer but it is not the sort of computer needed to work on the case,” Peirce said.

Judge Vanessa Baraitser said she had no jurisdiction over his conditions in prison.

Assange, who was sentenced to 50 weeks in prison for skipping bail to flee to the Ecuadorean embassy, will remain in custody ahead of a case management hearing on Dec. 19 before full extradition proceedings in February.

Reporting by Andrew MacAskill; Editing by Giles Elgood