Julian Assange is to apply for bail from high-security Belmarsh Prison this week, claiming he is vulnerable to a coronavirus outbreak inside the jail.

The 48-year-old WikiLeaks founder, who is being held on remand in south east London in Belmarsh, is due to appear at Westminster Magistrates' Court on Wednesday, March 25.

He is fighting extradition to the US on 17 charges under the Espionage Act and conspiracy to commit computer intrusion after the publication of hundreds of thousands of classified documents in 2010 and 2011.

The case was set to resume with up to four weeks of evidence in May, but proceedings could be delayed as courts are hit by the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

WikiLeaks said Assange's lawyers will make a bail application at the hearing on Wednesday, arguing he is vulnerable to an outbreak inside prison.

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Fears have been raised the deadly virus could spread rapidly among prisoners, with calls from some for early releases for those serving short sentences.

Assange has been held on remand in Belmarsh prison since last September after serving a 50-week jail sentence for breaching his bail conditions while he was in the Ecuadorian embassy in London.

His lawyers and supporters have repeatedly raised concerns over his health behind bars.

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Numerous claims have been made about Assange's health inside prison, and at a hearing at Woolwich Crown Court in February, he complained that he was struggling to follow proceedings or have confidential conversations with his lawyers.