Wikileaks’ Assange sentenced to prison for skipping bail
A British judge has sentenced WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to 50 weeks in prison for breaching a British court order seven years ago and holing up in the Ecuadorian embassy.
Assange sought asylum in Ecuador’s London embassy in June 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he was wanted for questioning over rape and sexual assault allegations.
Assange was found guilty in April of flouting the bail terms and, in sentencing him on Wednesday, Judge Deborah Taylor said Assange had sought asylum as a “deliberate attempt to delay justice”, and his seven years in the embassy had cost British taxpayers 16 million pounds (18.6 million euros).
Assange was arrested on 11 April after Ecuador revoked his asylum, accusing him of various things, including meddling in the nation's foreign affairs.
His lawyer said his client had sought refuge in the embassy because "he was living with overwhelming fear of being rendered to the United States” for prosecution over WikiLeaks’ release of millions of classified documents.
There is no longer an active investigation in Sweden, as the sexual assault claim expired in 2015 and the rape claim was dropped in 2017. However, the alleged victim does want the case reopened.
Assange faces a separate court hearing on Thursday on a US extradition request. A US indictment charges him with "conspiracy" for working with former US Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to crack a password stored on Pentagon computer system in 2010.
Assange could face up to five years in jail if found guilty, although his team is fighting his extradition and the process could take years.