Assange hearing set; WikiLeaks vows more cables

An extradition hearing for WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange is set for early February. Also, Assange's lawyer plans to publish online the legal arguments against Sweden's request.

A British court today set an extradition hearing for February 7 and 8 for Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks editor whom Swedish authorities have accused of rape.

District Judge Nicholas Evans set the date in a brief hearing today in London, using a large courtroom to accommodate more of the people interested in the high-profile case. In addition, the judge modified the terms of Assange's bail to permit him to stay in London during the hearing, according to CNET News sister site ZDNet UK.

Assange denies the Swedish accusations. According to a British police statement released when Assange was arrested December 7, he is accused of "one count of unlawful coercion, two counts of sexual molestation, and one count of rape."

WikiLeaks has published U.S. information about the wars in Iran and Afghanistan and more recently has been publishing a series diplomatic cables. This has triggered political outrage in many circles, and the U.S. Justice Department is figuring out what it can do--including seeking Twitter account information of some people involved.

The U.S.-based Electronic Freedom Foundation is defending an Icelandic parliament member , Birgitta Jónsdótti, one of the targets of the DOJ's Twitter investigation.

WikiLeaks plans to continue its "cablegate" work, Assange said today.

"Our work with WikiLeaks continues unabated and we are stepping up our publishing of materials related to cablegate," Assange said in a statement after the hearing, according to The Guardian.

In addition, Assange's lawyer, Mark Stephens, said his law firm plans to publish his side's "skeleton argument" in the Assange extradition case on its Web site.

In other WikiLeaks news, the organization yesterday latched onto the shooting of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords , offering condolences but then making the case that WikiLeaks staff are in a similar situation and arguing that the U.S. government should "protect the rule of law by aggressively prosecuting these and similar incitements to kill":

WikiLeaks staff and contributors have also been the target of unprecedented violent rhetoric by US prominent media personalities, including Sarah Palin, who urged the U.S. administration to "Hunt down the WikiLeaks chief like the Taliban." Prominent US politician Mike Huckabee called for the execution of WikiLeaks spokesman Julian Assange on his Fox News program last November, and Fox News commentator Bob Beckel, referring to Assange, publicly called for people to "illegally shoot the son of a bitch." US radio personality Rush Limbaugh has called for pressure to "Give [Fox News President Roger] Ailes the order and [then] there is no Assange, I'll guarantee you, and there will be no fingerprints on it," while the Washington Times columnist Jeffery T. Kuhner titled his column "Assassinate Assange" captioned with a picture Julian Assange overlayed with a gun site, blood spatters, and "WANTED DEAD or ALIVE" with the alive crossed out.

Perhaps Wikileaks has gotten a small measure of agreement regarding rhetoric and threats. After Assange supporter Jan Wildeboer protested to Web hosting firm GoDaddy about a site called killjulianassange.com, the site's owner apparently took the site down. Wildeboer argued the site violated GoDaddy's terms of service, which prohibit uses of its service that "promotes, encourages or engages in hate speech, hate crime, terrorism, violence against people, animals, or property, or intolerance of or against any protected class."

 

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