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Subject Mumbling Wikileaks founder Julian Assange fights back tears as he loses bid to delay extradition hearing that will see him sent to US to face sp
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Original Message Assange faces extradition to the U.S. to face 18 hacking and espionage charges
Process is likely to take months if not years if he decides to appeal each stage
Today he appeared in court for the first time since May, following illness in jail
Judge rejects bid to have full hearing delayed. It will happen in February

Julian Assange fought back tears as he lost the first bout of his extradition battle when a judge rejected his pleas for a full court hearing to be delayed.

The Wikileaks founder appeared in person in court for the first time since May this morning after illness prevented him from being at previous hearings in his battle against extradition to the United States to face spying charges.

Assange, dressed in a navy suit and light blue jumper, raised his fist to supporters in the public gallery. He was cleanly shaven in contrast to the long beard he had grown while holed up in Ecuador's embassy.

But he struggled to say his own name, mumbling, pausing and stuttering as he gave his name and date of birth at the start of a case management hearing.

A full hearing is due to start in February next year, but Assange's lawyers tried to have it delayed for three months because they need more time to prepare their case. Judge Vanessa Baraitser declined the request to delay proceedings.

When his case was adjourned, Assange complained that he had not understood proceedings. He said: 'I can't research anything, I can't access any of my writing. It's very difficult where I am.'

He told the judge he is up against a 'superpower' with 'unlimited resources' and appeared to be fighting back tears as he added: 'I can't think properly.'

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