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Assange ruling will not be delivered before US elections, judge says

THE ruling on Julian Assange’s extradition will not be delivered before the US elections, the judge hearing his case said today.

Judge Baraitser told the court that she would take each sides’ closing arguments in written form, granting the defence four additional weeks to submit theirs. 

She promised her decision “in the new year.”

The move came after the Wikileaks founder’s defence asked for time to prepare his closing arguments in the case.

Edward Fitzgerald QC claimed that the case is politically motivated under President Donald Trump.

Mr Fitzgerald  said: “Evidently it seems unlikely we will be able to get judgment before November 4 even if you were able to get our submissions.

“You have to bear in mind there is an election and the future is uncertain.”

He said that there were some elements of the defence case which related to the Trump presidency, saying it “would be worse if Mr Trump was there”.

He added: “We are dealing with real risks.”

Mr Assange is currently being held on remand at Belmarsh prison.

The US government is seeking the Wikileaks founder’s extradition to face charges that could result in a prison sentence of 175 years.

The court also heard that Mr Assange did not successfully coach Chelsea Manning to crack a US government password.

Forensic computer expert Patrick Eller told the extradition hearing that it was “computationally infeasible” to crack a hash code such as the one contained in the US government’s system.

He told the court that many soldiers hacked military computers to allow them to watch films and listen to music on their work equipment. 

Speaking over video link from the US, Mr Eller also described low standards of computer security in the unit where Ms Manning worked. 

Over a million government personnel had access to numerous military databases that were not password protected, he said. 

The passwords that were used were based on technology introduced in the 1970s.

Earlier, in written evidence, two US-based online publishers told the court that they had made accessible more than 250,000 unredacted state documents without any complaint from the US government. 

The hearing at the Old Bailey continues.

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