Assange supporters block road outside extradition hearing
Dozens of Julian Assange’s supporters blocked a road in protest as he appeared in court to start his fight against extradition to the US.
Demonstrators outside Westminster Magistrates’ Court held posters and banners demanding the WikiLeaks founder’s freedom.
After a short hearing to start what is likely to be a lengthy battle against extradition on a charge that Assange conspired to break into a classified Pentagon computer, protesters walked into the road, stopping traffic.
Some supporters, one wearing an Assange mask, sat in the street as motorists repeatedly beeped their horns.
The crowd chanted “There’s only one decision, no extradition” and “Hands off Assange, US, UK”.
Many motorists, including taxi driver Neil Townsend, appeared angry at the delay to their journeys.
Mr Townsend said that while he believes in the right to protest, he cannot support people blocking a busy road.
He said: “I think that they’re blocking people up here that are just trying to do their work. And this is causing me a problem. I’ve got mouths to feed. I’ve got two young kids at home.”
Another motorist stuck in the gridlock said he supported the protest.
The driver, who did not give his name, said: “I’m on his (Assange’s) side.”
Police moved in to clear the road around 30 minutes into the demonstration.
A number of Assange supporters attended the packed court hearing on Thursday morning, with some standing or sitting on the ground as the Australian appeared on video link from Belmarsh prison.