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WikiLeaks’ Assange appeals UK extradition ruling

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WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange will on Tuesday start his appeal against a British court ruling that he can be extradited to Sweden to face allegations of rape.

The 40-year-old Australian will take his legal battle to the High Court in London for a two-day hearing, in the hope of reversing the February ruling.

A judge rejected arguments by Assange’s defence team that he would face an unfair trial in Sweden that would breach his human rights.

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He was arrested in December after two Swedish women accused him of sexual assault, allegations that Assange denies, as his whistleblowing website was in the process of releasing a huge cache of leaked US diplomatic cables.

It was the site’s latest dump of American government documents and infuriated Washington.

Swedish authorities want to quiz him over the sex assault claims, although he has not been formally charged.

Scores of journalists attended his previous court hearings as well as celebrity supporters including socialite Jemima Khan and human rights campaigner Bianca Jagger.

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After judge Howard Riddle rejected his lawyers’ arguments during the extradition hearing at Belmarsh Magistrates’ Court in London, Assange lashed out at the decision and blamed the European warrant system under which he was arrested.

“It is a result of the European Arrest Warrant system run amok. There was no consideration during this entire process as to the merits of the allegations against me,” he told reporters after the ruling.

Even if he loses this week’s appeal, Assange has signalled he is prepared for a lengthy legal battle and could take his challenge all the way to the Supreme Court.

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The former computer hacker has been living under strict bail conditions, including wearing an electronic ankle tag and a curfew, at a friend’s mansion in eastern England since December.

Despite the restrictions, on Sunday he managed to celebrate his 40th birthday, which was on July 3. He held a party to which more than 100 guests were invited, according to Vaughan Smith, who owns the country estate where Assange is staying.

He has claimed his greatest fear is eventual extradition to the United States, where his lawyers argued he could be sent to the Guantanamo Bay detention facility or face the death penalty.

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US authorities opened a criminal investigation against Assange in July 2010 but are yet to formally bring any charges against him.

WikiLeaks infuriated Washington with its release of classified documents, including around 250,000 US diplomatic cables and thousands of secret files about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

American soldier Bradley Manning has been accused of leaking documents to the whistleblower site and is in a US military prison awaiting a possible court martial on charges that include “aiding the enemy.”

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US Vice President Jo Biden has slammed Assange as a “hi-tech terrorist”, but he has also won many admirers — his website is among the nominees for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize, due to be announced in October.


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Trump wishes ‘Happy Birthday to the US Navy’ — with a picture of a Russian battlecruiser

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Adding to President Donald Trump's Russia obsession was an awkward misfire in a simple happy birthday message.

Sunday morning, before Trump set out on another day of golf, he tweeted a celebratory message to the U.S. Navy, which was officially established in 1775. Instead of showing photos of historic Navy ships or courageous sailors or decorated admiral, Trump posted a battleship, that isn't even an American ship.

According to Politico defense editor Dave Brown, the photo used in the graphic was Russian battlecruiser, the Pyotr Velikiy.

Democrats have alleged that Trump has an unnaturally close relationship to Russia, giving President Vladimir Putin whatever foreign policy demands he has.

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Former George W. Bush aide reveals why Republican talking points on Syria are complete crap

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During the weekend news shows, President Donald Trump's aides and allies took to televisions to justify the United States allowing Turkey to kill U.S. Kurdish allies.

"New Trumpist talking point," former George W. Bush speechwriter David Frum began. "The only way to stop Turkey['s] massacre of Kurds is to go to war against Turkey."

That's an inaccurate framing, Frum explained.

"Turkey never believed that: that's why they asked Trump's permission to invade," he said. "All he had to do was say No. He said, Yes. Why? All the plausible answers are corrupt."

https://twitter.com/davidfrum/status/1183446682492637184

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John Dean laments Trump probably should be registered as a foreign agent

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While many of President Donald Trump's campaign staffers, advisers or friends have been outed for doing foreign work while being an unregistered foreign agent, one former White House counsel thinks Trump should also probably register.

"In addition to other impeachable offenses, Trump should be charged with failing to register as a foreign agent under FARA," said Twitter user Connie Gruen.

Dean noticed the tweet and retweeted with his own note that it's "sadly" probably true.

"Sadly, this is probably true," agreed Dean. "Mueller did not investigate if Trump is, in fact, a Russian agent. Barr does not believe a POTUS can be investigated for anything, so the FBI is not. Because he acts like a RU agent Congress should be investigating his consistently pro-RU behavior!"

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