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Computer hacker Assange slams prison IT

Computer hacker and Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has complained about IT provision in his prison.

A hearing at Westminster Magistrates' Court was told he had been unable to work on his case because his computer at HM Belmarsh prison was not up to standard.

Assange, who before starting Wikileaks worked as an IT consultant in Australia for Victoria Police’s Child Exploitation Unit and ran an online security advice website, has complained that the computer needs updating.

Gareth Peirce, representing Assange, told the court that her client’s computer needed more than trying to turn it off and turn it on again.

She said: "I will put it on the record, you will understand that we are working extremely hard on this very challenging case; however, the most important of the impediments that we are facing is Mr Assange's ability to access what he needs to work on his own case.

"After months of battle he was provided with a computer but it is not the sort of computer needed to work on the case."

A member of his legal team said the computer was unlikely to be connected to the internet, limiting his ability to carry out research.

Attempts to enable prisoners to keep up with IT to pay bills and stay connected with their families have been slow. A pilot scheme has rolled out internet access to just 10 prisons - and Belmarsh was not among them.

Even the Ministry of Justice’s chief digital and information officer Tom Read, said last year in an interview that prison staff are using “pretty clunky old computers”.

District Judge Vanessa Baraitser said she had no jurisdiction over the prison conditions.

The Ministry of Justice highlighted the fact thart official guidance restricts internet access for all prisoners and none have extra rights or entitlement. 

Assange was remanded in custody until a substantive case management hearing on December 19. He will appear again on December 13 at Westminster Magistrates Court to confirm his remand and full extradition proceedings are expected to begin in February.

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