There are at least eight prisons in London. To accommodate Julian Assange, the British judiciary has selected Belmarsh. The maximum-security facility in the east of London was built to house terrorists and felons. Conditions inside Belmarsh are considered harsh enough that the BBC has compared it to Guantanamo Bay.
Assange’s prison cell opened Monday morning and the founder of the WikiLeaks whistleblower platform was transferred to a courtroom in London’s Central Criminal Court, the Old Bailey, where his fate will be determined over the next three weeks. Will the 49-year-old be extradited to the US judiciary? If convicted in the United States, he could face a sentence of up to 175 years in prison. Heike Hänsel, a member of Germany’s lower house of parliament, the Bundestag, is attending the extradition hearing. The Left Party deputy parliamentary leader lamented a “politically motivated trial targeting an investigative journalist” and extraterritorial persecution of a “journalist on European soil who worked as a journalist in Europe.”
The US judiciary’s strategy is to accuse Assange not as a journalist but as a hacker. The 18 counts of the indictment can be reduced to three main charges: Assange is accused of providing technical support to Chelsea Manning, who in 2013 was court-martialed for providing information to WikiLeaks in violation of the Espionage Act; of instigating Manning to provide further material; and of intentionally endangering people’s lives by publishing the embassy cables.