WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is being prosecuted for publishing sources’ names and not his political opinions, lawyers representing the United States said on Wednesday as Assange fights to stop his extradition from Britain.

U.S. prosecutors are seeking to put Assange, 52, on trial over WikiLeaks’ high-profile release of vast troves of confidential U.S. military records and diplomatic cables.

They argue the leaks imperilled the lives of their agents and there is no excuse for his criminality. Assange‘s supporters, however, hail him as a journalist and a hero who is being persecuted for exposing U.S. wrongdoing.

Assange‘s lawyers told London’s High Court on Tuesday that the case was politically motivated, arguing Assange was targeted for his exposure of “state-level crimes” and that Donald Trump had requested “detailed options” on how to kill him.

But, on Wednesday, lawyers for the U.S. said Assange‘s prosecution was “based on the rule of law and evidence”.

Clair Dobbin told the court: “The appellant’s prosecution might be unprecedented, but what he did was unprecedented.”

Assange “indiscriminately and knowingly published to the world the names of individuals who acted as sources of information to the U.S.”, she said.

“It is these core facts which distinguish the position of the appellant from the New York Times and other media outlets,” Dobbin added.

“It is this which forms the objective basis for his prosecution. It is these facts which distinguish him, not his political opinions.”

Assange himself was again not in court on Wednesday nor watching remotely because he was unwell.

The Australian’s legal battles began in 2010, and he subsequently spent seven years holed up in Ecuador’s embassy in London before he was dragged out and jailed in 2019 for breaching bail conditions.

He has been held in a maximum-security jail in London ever since, even getting married there, while Britain finally approved his extradition to the U.S. in 2022.

Assange‘s lawyers say that, if convicted, he could be given a sentence as long as 175 years, but likely to be at least 30 to 40 years. U.S. prosecutors have said it would be no more than 63 months.

If Assange wins this case, a full appeal hearing will be held to again consider his challenge. If he loses, his only remaining option would be at the European Court of Human Rights and his wife Stella Assange has said his lawyers would apply to the European judges for an emergency injunction if necessary.

WikiLeaks first came to prominence in 2010 when it published a U.S. military video showing a 2007 attack by Apache helicopters in Baghdad that killed a dozen people, including two Reuters news staff.

It then released thousands of secret classified files and diplomatic cables that laid bare often highly critical U.S. appraisals of world leaders from Russian President Vladimir Putin to members of the Saudi royal family.

Assange‘s supporters include Amnesty International, media groups and politicians including Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, who last week voted in favour of a motion calling for his return to Australia.