Assange's lawyer named French minister

One of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange's lawyers has been appointed as French justice minister.
One of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange's lawyers has been appointed as French justice minister.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange's lawyer Eric Dupond-Moretti has been appointed as France's new justice minister.

Dupond-Moretti, a prominent criminal defence lawyer, was elevated to the ministry by incoming Prime Minister Jean Castex on Monday.

The 55-year-old is known for a his record number of acquittals and led a push by European lawyers for French President Emmanuel Macron to grant asylum to Assange in February.

"We consider the situation is sufficiently serious that our duty is to talk about it," Dupond-Moretti said about Assange's case at the time.

The Frenchman has said the case against the Australian is unfair, citing Assange's poor health and alleged violations of his rights while in jail in London

Dupond-Moretti's team also warned of "consequences for all journalists" if Assange is extradited and jailed in the US.

French members of Assange's legal team said they had been working on a "concrete demand" for Macron to grant Assange asylum in France, where he has children.

It's unclear whether Dupond-Moretti will now use his position to grant the Australian asylum.

Assange has been held on remand in London's Belmarsh prison since October 11, and is facing an extradition hearing to decide whether he should be sent to the US to face charges.

The hearing has been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic and Assange hasn't appeared before court in more than three months.

The 49-year-old's next callover hearing is in the Westminster Magistrates' Court on July 27.

The extradition trial is set to resume on September 7.

The Australian is accused of publishing thousands of secret US diplomatic and military files, some of which revealed alleged war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan.

He's also accused of trying to recruit hackers to provide WikiLeaks with classified US information.

The charges carry a total of 175 years' imprisonment.

Australian Associated Press