Melbourne: Wikileaks founder Julian Assange on Thursday appealed to the Australian government to provide him diplomatic protection as he began his legal fight against being extradited to the US from the UK to face charges of allegedly leaking American government secrets.
"I do not wish to surrender myself to extradition for doing journalism that has won many, many awards and protected many people," Assange said via videolink from Belmarsh prison.
On Wednesday, the 47-year-old Australian was sentenced to 50 weeks in prison for breaching his British bail.
Outside the Westminster Magistrates' Court in London, his lawyer Jennifer Robinson made a fresh appeal to the Australian government to intervene in the case.
"What we would like to see is action at the higher political levels and diplomatic protection being exercised over Julian Assange," Robinson was quoted as saying by news agency Australian Associated Press (AAP).
"We have been asking the Australian government since 2010 to seek assurances to protect him from US extradition, the very matter that he's facing right now and we would like the Australian government to be raising his case," she said.
Robinson said there was no suggestion her client has ever hacked US military computers.
"Journalists do this all the time, that's why this indictment and the extradition request is such a concern for free speech groups here (the UK) and in the US, and it's why Julian is committed to defending himself and resisting extradition in this case," she said.