Julian Assange
Veteran journalist John Pilger (centre) was among those who turned up to support Assange Photo: AFP / JUSTIN TALLIS

Several British judges are set to rule on whether WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange will be extradited to the United States after he launched a legal appeal to block the order.

Assange's appeal saw a two-day court hearing this week, in a final attempt to stop his extradition from the United Kingdom.

The WikiLeaks Founder failed to attend the hearing, which took place at London's High Court, due to his poor health. Sources inside the courthouse also reported that Assange did not appear in court via a video link.

The legal battle, which has seen prosecutors in the US call for Assange's extradition in relation to 18 federal charges, has been ongoing for almost 14 years.

If he is extradited to the US, Assange could face incarcerated for up to 175 years. For charges relating to computer fraud, the whistle-blower could receive a maximum of five years imprisonment.

According to the US, Assange has been condemned for hacking and stealing classified documents and material.

Assange's convictions came after WikiLeaks published a series of stolen US diplomatic cables and military documents that discussed the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in 2010.

During the two-day court hearing, protestors held demonstrations outside the courthouse in London, calling for the WikiLeaks Founder's freedom.

Movements that backed Assange having his extradition to the US blocked were also seen in other cities across the world, including in front of the US Embassy in Berlin, Germany, and outside the British Consulate in Milan, Italy.

On the second and final day of the hearing, the lawyers representing the US said that the Australian-born whistle-blower was being prosecuted for publishing the names of the US sources, not for his political stance.

While the two senior judges, who are reviewing the case, are set to deliver a ruling in the coming days or weeks, Judge Victoria Sharp said: "We will reserve our decision."

There have been no further updates on when the senior judges, including Judge Jeremy Johnson, will announce their decision.

For the WikiLeaks Founder, a positive outcome of the hearing will see Assange provided with further support and opportunities to argue his case to the UK courts in a bid to block the order.

If the court decision is not in Assange's favour, the whistle-blower will either be forced into the extradition process or forced to post an application to the European Court of Human Rights.

Despite US lawyers arguing that the allegations against Assange are not directed towards his political opinions, Assange's defence lawyers claimed that the extradition warrant was a result of political differences.

The lawyers referred to the WikiLeaks Founder as a 'journalist' who was only doing his job by publishing the stolen US files – says Simon Crowther, a Legal Advisor for the human rights organisation Amnesty International.

Amnesty International has also been campaigning for the extradition order to be blocked.

Crowther explained: "Firstly, they [Assange's lawyers] pointed out this is something that journalists do all the time: you receive classified material as journalists from confidential sources and you publish it when it's in the public interest, particularly when it covers issues such as war crimes, crimes against humanity, accusations of torture, extrajudicial execution."

Julia Hall, an Expert on Counter-Terrorism and Criminal Justice in Europe for Amnesty International, said that the extradition will not only impact Assange, but "the worldwide media community will be on notice that they too are not safe".

"The public's right to information about what their governments are doing in their name will be profoundly undermined. The US must drop the charges under the espionage act against Assange and bring an end to his arbitrary detention in the UK," she added.