WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange appeared in a London court on Monday to fight extradition to the United States, and according to The Independent, Assange struggled with his words during the hearing.
Appearing to fight back tears as he spoke, Assange “mumbled, paused and stuttered as he confirmed his name and date of birth at the beginning of the start of a case management hearing,” the publication reported.
In the U.S., the native Australian faces 18 charges in relation to leaking hundreds of thousands of classified documents. Those charges include “conspiracy to hack government computers and violation of espionage law, and could spend decades in prison if convicted.”
During the hearing, Assange told the judge he is up against a “superpower” with “unlimited resources,” adding: “I can’t think properly.”
The notorious hacker is currently being held in a high-security prison in the U.K., after being arrested and sentenced to 50 weeks earlier this year “for breaching his bail conditions by taking refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in London to avoid extradition to Sweden over sex offence allegations.”
In May, concerns over Assange’s health arose, with WikiLeaks saying: “During the seven weeks in Belmarsh his health has continued to deteriorate and he has dramatically lost weight. The decision of the prison authorities to move him into the health ward speaks for itself.”
Mark Summers, Assange’s barrister, argued in court that the extradition request should be rejected, characterizing it as “a political attempt” by the Trump administration to “signal to journalists the consequences of publishing information.”
Summers noted that the U.S. investigation into his client was concluded under President Barack Obama with no charges filed.
Amnesty International has also urged the court to reject the extradition request, citing concerns over Assange’s welfare should he end up in U.S. custody.
“The British authorities must acknowledge the real risks of serious human rights violations Julian Assange would face if sent to the USA. The UK must comply with the commitment it’s already made that he would not be sent anywhere he could face torture or other ill-treatment,” said Massimo Moratti, Amnesty’s deputy director for Europe.