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“Julian Assange is the subject of political persecution”

Baltasar Garzon, in Paris, Thursday, February 20. FRANCOIS GUILLOT / AFP

The creator of the WikiLeaks site, Julian Assange, will try to stop his extradition to the United States before a London court, from Monday 24 February. Several of his lawyers and supporters were gathered on February 20 in Paris to alert the situation of the founder of WikiLeaks, who faces one hundred and seventy-five years in prison in the United States for having published secret documents in 2010 and 2011.

Baltasar Garzon, a former Spanish human rights magistrate, is the coordinator of the defense team for the founder of WikiLeaks. He answered our questions before this hearing.

Read on the subject: In prison and weakened, Julian Assange prepares as best he can his extradition trial

How is Julian Assange?

He is in good spirits, but he is physically weak. He now communicates with the outside world, but until recently was in solitary confinement. His seven years of confinement [depuis son entrée en 2012 dans l’ambassade d’Equateur] have weakened him a lot physically. But he has great strength of character, and he now wants to explain himself.

What will your strategy be at trial?

Out of respect for the judge, you will understand that I cannot develop our arguments. On the other hand, we cannot present the defense strategy without knowing the accusation.

In general, we will explain that Julian Assange is a journalist, the publisher of WikiLeaks, who has exposed serious crimes and illegal acts, and who is not recognized as a journalist. The revelations from WikiLeaks have been good for all of us. The accusation of spying by the United States falls on its own weight: it received information, it did not act as a spy! He published the information received as a journalist.

We believe that the United States has always tried to silence him for a political reason. They failed to do so, so they are trying to extradite him and condemn him to the risk of his life. He is a victim of political persecution, in particular because he was spied on when he was at the Embassy of Ecuador in London.

Microphones have been installed there, and video cameras to spy on his privacy, that of his defenders, his lawyers. We were all spied on, in order to build the case that makes us here today. I believe that at the hearing we will do our utmost to bring clarity to the persecution of the United States intelligence services against Julian Assange.

Read on the subject: US decides to indict Julian Assange for spying

His British lawyers complained about the difficulty of accessing their client: did you have enough time to prepare the defense for Julian Assange?

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