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Australians hold pro-Assange rally ahead of hearing at UK court on US extradition bid

A group of people have gathered in the Australian city of Melbourne to protest the ongoing detention of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange ahead of a hearing session at a UK court on his extradition to the United States.

According to Press TV, Assange’s supporters gathered outside the British Consulate on Sunday, calling for his repatriation to Australia, his home country.

“They want to extradite him to America and we’re opposing that,” said a protester.

The 48-year-old Australian journalist is accused of publishing secret documents and violating anti-espionage law in the United States. He faces up to 175 years in prison if convicted.

Assange fought extradition to the US for seven years as he remained confined in the Ecuadorian embassy in London before being removed from the diplomatic mission by the UK police last April.

Since then, he has been kept in high-security Belmarsh Prison in London.

A judge at Woolwich crown court in southeast London on Monday began hearing arguments from lawyers for US authorities for the extradition of Assange to America.

Jennifer Robinson, Assange’s lawyer, says his case could lead to criminalizing activities crucial to investigative journalists and his work has shed an unprecedented light on how the United States conducted its wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“We are talking about collateral murder, evidence of war crimes,” she said. “They are a remarkable resource for those of us seeking to hold governments to account for abuses.”