LONDON — At a British extradition hearing for Julian Assange on Monday, an American lawyer said the WikiLeaks founder faces decades in prison if he is convicted on spying charges in the United States.
U.S. prosecutors have indicted the 49-year-old Australian on 17 espionage charges and one of computer misuse over WikiLeaks’ publication of secret U.S. military documents a decade ago. The charges carry a maximum sentence of 175 years in prison.
Attorney Eric Lewis, appearing as a defense witness, said the scope of the indictment pointed to “a very aggressive approach to sentencing on the part of the government.”
“All signs point to a very long sentence, measured in many decades,” said Lewis, a senior partner at Lewis Baach Kaufmann Middlemiss in Washington, D.C.
“We are looking at a sentence somewhere between 20 years, if everything goes brilliantly, to 175 years, which the government could easily ask for,” he said.
Assange’s lawyers say the prosecution is politically motivated and he will not receive a fair trial in the U.S. They also argue the conditions he would face in prison would breach his human rights.
Assange’s legal woes began a decade ago when WikiLeaks published classified U.K. military documents about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He has been in a British prison since he was ejected from his refuge at the Ecuadorian embassy in London in April 2019.
Print Headline: Lawyer: Assange may face long term