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The third day of Julian Assange’s extradition hearing saw lawyers honing in on the particulars of a US-UK extradition treaty, and unexpected drama as the whistleblower spoke to complain about lack of access to his defense team.

Proceedings began with a note of housekeeping from Judge Vanessa Baraitser, who said a photograph had been taken in court earlier in the week. She reminded attendees that this is a criminal offense, and said she would consider the culprit “in contempt” of court.

For the third day running, Assange sat in the glass-fronted dock, wearing a suit jacket, inspecting his notes and able to communicate with his lawyers only through holes in the glass. At the outset, his lawyers cautioned that he was on medication and may need occasional breaks.

Also on rt.com Press freedom will be ‘thing of the past’ if British help Americans get their way with Assange – Irish MEP ‘Political offenses’

The crux of the defense’s argument was that, since Assange is charged under the US Espionage Act, he is wanted for “political offenses,” and extraditing under these circumstances would be unlawful under the 2003 US-UK extradition treaty.

Edward Fitzgerald QC argued that the exception for political

Source: RT 

Irish MEP Mick Wallace slammed US prosecutors for “undermining” international law” during Julian Assange extradition hearings and warned that, if the whistleblower is extradited, freedom of the press will be a “thing of the past.”

Speaking outside Woolwich Crown Court on the third day of the preliminary hearings, Wallace said James Lewis QC, acting for the US government, was putting international law and freedom of the press “under serious threat.”

If the Americans get their way with the complicity of the British, freedom of the press will be a thing of the past.

Lewis argued on Wednesday that British courts can’t apply rights from international treaties which have not been established in English domestic law. He was making the case that a US-UK extradition treaty which prohibits extradition for “political offenses” is superseded by the UK’s Extradition Act of 2003, which does not contain the same provision. 

Also on rt.com Assange blasts court for preventing communication with lawyers, alleges legal team is being SPIED on

Wallace said that Assange’s case was clearly an international one and that international law cannot be ignored or undermined. He said the case would likely go to multiple appeals and questioned whether the WikiLeaks founder, who has suffered ill health and alleged inhumane treatment in the top-security Belmarsh Prison, would survive more years locked up.

“His only crime is exposing the truth about US war crimes. You cannot shout it loudly enough,” he said.

Assange’s father John Shipton also spoke outside the court after the third day of hearings wrapped up, asking journalists to “advance the case that Julian get bail immediately.”

A spokesperson for Reporters Without Borders said the press freedom organization was concerned that the prosecution was arguing the international law does not apply in Assange’s case. She said it “does apply” and Assange faces “politically motivated” charges in the US.

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Source: RT 

German Health Minister Jens Spahn has said that his country is facing a “coronavirus epidemic.” Since breaking out in northern Italy, the deadly COVID-19 virus has spread to more than a dozen European countries.

“We are at the beginning of a coronavirus epidemic in Germany,” the minister told reporters in Berlin on Wednesday. Spahn added that infection chains can no longer be tracked in Germany, and called on hospitals and employers to review their pandemic planning.

A new instance of the deadly infection confirmed in the state of Nordrhein-Westfalen on Tuesday brought to 18 the number of cases recorded in Germany. 

Also on rt.com European borders remain open, as Italian coronavirus outbreak kills 11 & infects HUNDREDS

Spahn claimed earlier that “detection and containment” efforts in Europe were working to hold back the spread of the virus, but an explosion of cases in northern Italy and at least 13 other European countries have forced him to reevaluate the situation. At his last press conference on Tuesday, Spahn admitted “it could get worse before it gets better.”

Tracking the ‘infection chains’ – noting the previous travel and social encounters of the infected – is vital to understanding the spread of

Source: RT 

With a last name like hers, Rasheda Ali knows a thing or two about combat sports, and the daughter of the great Muhammad Ali says a potential rematch between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Conor McGregor is almost too close to call.

Nurmagomedov, the unquestioned UFC standard-bearer at 155lbs, is just weeks away from a title defense against Tony Ferguson. And if he emerges from that bout with his lightweight title still intact, Ali says she wants to see mixed martial arts’ two most famous names go head to head once more.

I believe Khabib is undefeated? You can’t take that from him,” Ali said in an interview with RT.

He’s amazing. My family and I, we are huge Khabib fans as well [as McGregor]. I think his grappling style is pretty amazing.”

The original meeting between the two heated rivals came in October 2018 and was one of the most fractious battles in UFC history, with bad blood before and after the fight, which Nurmagomedov won via fourth-round submission.

It was a performance that impressed Ali, who said she would love to see the pair face off again to see if McGregor can defuse Nurmagomedov’s stifling grappling skills. 

For

Source: RT 

Three Russian citizens on the ‘Diamond Princess’ cruise ship have tested positive for coronavirus, the head of the Russian Federal Service for the Oversight of Consumer Protection and Welfare, Anna Popova, said on Wednesday.

“We have transported Russian citizens from Japan… All eight of them have been hospitalized and are under medical surveillance at hospitals for infectious diseases, including three that have tested positive for new coronavirus,” she told reporters.

“Members of their families have also been hospitalized and taken to Kazan,” she said. The diagnoses of the three Russians have been confirmed through various tests.

The cruise ship, with around 3,700 passengers and crewmembers on board, has been quarantined since February 5 after one passenger, a Chinese citizen, was confirmed to have been infected with the new coronavirus. A total of 691 people on board the cruise ship had contracted the virus and four people died, TASS reported.

Source: RT 

Russian tennis icon Maria Sharapova has announced she is hanging up her racket at the age of 32, calling time on a gilded career in which she became a five-time Grand Slam winner.

READ MORE: Russian five-time Grand Slam champion Maria Sharapova calls time on glittering career

Sharapova broke the news of her retirement in a heartfelt Instagram post to her fans on Wednesday, writing:

“Tennis showed me the world – and it showed me what I was made of.

“It’s how I tested myself and how I measured my growth. And so in whatever I might choose for my next chapter, my next mountain, I’ll still be pushing. I’ll still be climbing. I’ll still be growing.

“Tennis – I’m saying goodbye.”

As the tennis world reflects on the departure of one its all-time greats, we look back at Sharapova’s remarkable career in pictures.

Teenage dream 

Born in Russia, where she spent her early childhood growing up in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Sharapova took up tennis from the age of around four. With her burgeoning talent already clear, her family moved to the US as she continued to train in Florida.

Sharapova rose through the junior rankings, reaching

Source: RT 

Police have ordered an “immediate evacuation” in the Shropshire town of Ironbridge in England, after rising water levels in the River Severn burst temporary flood barriers.

Two “danger to life” flood warnings had been issued by authorities for Ironbridge and nearby Shrewsbury, following days of torrential rain. The situation escalated on Wednesday, when West Mercia Police issued the evacuation order to Ironbridge residents, saying flood barriers had been “overwhelmed.”

Photos and videos of the English town under water have been widely circulated on social media. Residents overlooking the River Severn posted pictures of the flood barriers being breached just feet away from their properties. Water levels were seen to be so high that they almost covered the first floor of homes.

Footage of fast-flowing water in the town’s river were also posted on Twitter, showing the scale of the crisis, while other footage showed emergency services carrying out the evacuation.

Good-humored videos were also tweeted by some who tried to see the lighter side of the situation. Despite being trapped in their property, one resident insisted that they were keeping up their spirits by consuming chocolate and alcohol.

According to the Environment Agency, river levels in Ironbridge are expected to

Source: RT 

The United Kingdom cannot have a trade deal akin to the one Canada enjoys with the European Union, the bloc’s Brexit negotiator said on Wednesday. Michel Barnier’s statement came as the two sides gear up for fraught talks on a new relationship after Britain’s departure.

The new round of EU-UK talks starts on Monday, and Barnier said the UK had to accept level-playing field guarantees of fair competition to gain “super preferential access” to the EU market of 450 million people, Reuters reports.

“The UK says that it wants Canada. But the problem with that is that the UK is not Canada,” Barnier told an event at the European Parliament. This is because of Britain’s proximity to the EU and the much larger trade volumes it has with the EU than with Canada, he said.

“We are ready to offer the UK super preferential access to our own markets,” Barnier said, adding it would be “unprecedented” for any foreign country. He said the EU would never risk unraveling the single market and that modern trade deals were also about labor, environmental, competition, and other sustainability standards.

Source: RT 

On the third day of his extradition hearing WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has rebuked the court for preventing him from communicating with his legal team, saying his prosecutors have “100 times more contact hours each day.”

Amid a prosecution argument about whether or not he stands charged with “political offenses” Assange stood and told the court that “the problem is I cannot participate, I cannot privately communicate with my lawyers.” 

Also on rt.com Assange detention illegal under English, European and international law, defense argues

Judge Vanessa Baraitser responded to the 48-year-old journalist and publisher by saying she would not allow him to address the court: “Mr Assange, generally defendants do not have a voice.”

The Australian continued to try and get his point across so the magistrate adjourned the court for five minutes while the defense team held a ‘private’ meeting. 

“The other side must have something like 100 contact hours each day,” Assange said upon the conclusion of the adjournment, before adding that his legal team is being spied on.

There is already enough spying on my lawyers as it is. There are a number of unnamed embassy officials here. There are two microphones in here. What’s

Source: RT 

The framing of Ivan Golunov on bogus drugs charges outraged Russian civil society last summer, drawing condemnation from all sides of the political and ideological divide.

Now, Vladimir Putin says he believes the public outcry played a “positive role” in righting the injustice.

Following protests and unprecedented media unity, an investigation quickly discovered that the case against the journalist was fabricated. One month later, several police officers and two high ranking officials were fired. They now face criminal proceedings of their own.

“[The] intervention of the people makes a difference in today’s Russia. If anything, this is good,” the president said. “The situation is taking its natural course. Law enforcement agencies are looking into the matter. Some have been fired, some detained.”

Putin was speaking to journalist Andrei Vandenko, who interviewed him as part of news agency TASS’ series ’20 Questions to Vladimir Putin.’ This video, the fourth in the series, is dedicated to the most prominent criminal cases of 2019.

Putin stated that investigations should be carried out thoroughly and should not be rushed.

“Do you want them to beat confessions out of people or to obtain them in due course in conformity with the current law?” he asked.