Julian Assange extradition protesters
© REUTERS/Henry Nicholls
Protestors outside the Old Bailey in London ahead of a hearing to decide whether Assange should be extradited to the United States.
Hot on the heels of a coronavirus scare, Julian Assange's extradition hearing was postponed on Monday following a farcical videolink failure which meant the court could not hear the testimony of a prominent witness.

The court was hearing from witness Eric Lewis, an experienced US lawyer, when out of the blue it was interrupted by a Fox News video about WikiLeaks. The source of the unexpected interruption was never revealed and the court went into recess in a bid to resolve the technical difficulties.

Lewis was expected to give evidence that Assange would face a "flagrant denial of justice" if put on trial in the US. The court was only on the first of five statements he submitted when the issues arose.

The videolink problems persisted when the sitting resumed as those in the courtroom were unable to hear what Lewis was saying. Despite problems in the courtroom, the lawyer's comments were audible to those watching a livestream of the proceedings. Lewis could be heard repeatedly saying "can you hear me?" while frantically waving his arms to catch the attention of the court.

The technical difficulties failed to be resolved and after a lengthy delay the court was adjourned without hearing Lewis' full testimony. During the portion that could be heard, the lawyer gave evidence that the WikiLeaks founder would face a possible 175-year sentence if convicted on all 18 charges he faces, pointing out that in the US "sentences are longer than are found elsewhere in the world."

Assange is wanted in the United States over allegations that he conspired to hack government computers and violated an espionage law over the release of confidential cables in 2010-2011.