Lawyers apply for Assange to leave dock

Julian Assange says he is struggling to communicate with his lawyers from the courtroom dock.
Julian Assange says he is struggling to communicate with his lawyers from the courtroom dock.

Julian Assange's lawyers will apply for the WikiLeaks founder to leave the dock and join them on the bench at his US extradition hearing.

The Australian protested at being like "a spectator at Wimbledon" on Wednesday at Woolwich Crown Court in London, as he was held in the dock behind the glass off the dock and struggling to communicate with his lawyers.

Judge Vanessa Baraitser ruled that leaving the dock would be a risk and akin to bail, despite prosecution barrister James Lewis expressing a "neutral stance" on it.

Assange's defence team told AAP they will proceed with the application after the mid-morning adjournment on Thursday.

Earlier in the day, US government lawyers argued that Assange was not exempt from extradition because his motives were not political.

Mr Lewis argued that Assange's action was not aimed at changing the US government or its policy.

"We say, it's not and therefore will not fall into the definition of political offence," he said.

The barrister said there was an "English definition" of a political offence, which was not purely dependent on the name of the offence like espionage.

"Extradition is based on conduct, it is not anymore based on the names of offences," he said.

Mr Lewis also said there wasn't "political struggle" going on between the American government and "other factions" like WikiLeaks when the organisation was publishing classified material files.

"Any bare assertion that WikiLeaks was engaged in a struggle with the US government ... needs to be examined far more," he said.

He also claimed a political offence was a "dated" exemption in modern societies because time had changed from when dissidents were trying to uphold liberal democracy.

Australian Associated Press