Assange's fate hangs in balance as UK considers extradition to U.S.

Julian Assange: a hero who exposed abuses of power...or a dangerous enemy of the state?

A London court will start hearings on Monday (February 24) to decide whether the WikiLeaks founder should be extradited to the United States.

Some ten months after he was dragged from London's Ecuadorean embassy, where he'd been holed up for seven years.

It won't rule on whether Assange is guilty of any wrongdoing, but just whether the extradition request meets the demands of a UK-U.S. treaty.

Washington wants him on 18 criminal counts of conspiring to hack government computers and violating an espionage law.

He faces decades in jail if convicted. And says it is politically motivated by those embarrassed by his revelations.

Assange's lawyer says the case could end up criminalizing acts that provide vital resources for investigative journalists.

His legal team say they'll push for Assange to receive asylum in France - where Assange says his youngest child and their mother are from - on humanitarian and health grounds.

WikiLeaks angered Washington by publishing hundreds of thousands of secret U.S. diplomatic cables.

They laid bare critical U.S. opinions of world leaders.

In 2010 WikiLeaks released a classified U.S. military video of an attack by one of its Apaches in Baghdad three years earlier that killed a dozen people, including two Reuters news staff.

Assange's lawyers told a London court this week that U.S. President Donald Trump offered to pardon Assange if he said Russia had nothing to do with WikiLeaks' publication of Democratic Party emails in 2016.

The White House dismissed that allegation.