WikiLeaks’ Assange gets 50 weeks in prison for bail-jumping

U.S. & World
Britain WikiLeaks Assange_1556716450925

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange being taken from court, where he appeared on charges of jumping British bail seven years ago, in London, Wednesday May 1, 2019. Assange has been jailed for 50 weeks for breaching his bail after going into hiding in the Ecuadorian embassy in London. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

LONDON (AP) — A British judge sentenced WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on Wednesday to 50 weeks in prison for skipping bail seven years ago and holing up in the Ecuadorian embassy.

Judge Deborah Taylor said it was hard to imagine a more serious version of the offense as she gave the 47-year-old hacker a sentence close to the maximum of a year in custody.

She said Assange’s seven years in the embassy had cost British taxpayers 16 million pounds ($21 million) and said he sought asylum as a “deliberate attempt to delay justice.”

Assange stood impassively with his hands clasped while the sentence was read. His supporters in the public gallery at Southwark Crown Court cheered for him as he left and chanted “Shame on you” at the judge as Assange was led away.

With his white hair freshly coiffed and wearing a black sports jacket and grey sweater, Assange looked much more youthful and healthier than when he was dragged out of the Ecuadorian Embassy by British police on April 11.

At the time, sporting an unkempt beard and long hair, he seemed wild-eyed and angry. This time he was composed and for the most part polite, although he did interrupt the judge to challenge her on her characterization of the sexual misconduct allegations he faced in Sweden.

His lawyer read out a brief letter from Assange to the judge in which he apologized “unreservedly” to anyone who felt his actions had been disrespectful.

“I found myself struggling with terrifying circumstances for which neither I nor those from whom I sought advice could work out any remedy,” he said in the letter. “I did what I thought at the time was the best and perhaps the only thing that could be done.”

The Australian secret-spiller sought asylum in the South American country’s London embassy in June 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he was wanted for questioning over rape and sexual assault allegations made by two women.

Sweden suspended its investigation into possible sexual misconduct against Assange two years ago because he was beyond their reach while he was living in the embassy. Prosecutors have said that investigation could be revived if his situation changed.

Assange’s lawyer Mark Summers told a courtroom packed with journalists and WikiLeaks supporters that his client sought refuge in the Ecuadorian Embassy because “he was living with overwhelming fear of being rendered to the U.S.” because of his WikiLeaks activities.

He said Assange had a “well-founded” fear that he would be mistreated and possibly sent to the U.S. detention camp for terrorism suspects at Guantanamo Bay.

Assange was arrested by British police April 11 after Ecuador revoked his political asylum, accusing him of everything from meddling in the nation’s foreign affairs to poor hygiene.

He faces a separate court hearing Thursday on a U.S. extradition request. American authorities have charged Assange with conspiring to break into a Pentagon computer system.

Grab the FREE WDTN News App for iPhone or Android. Stay up to date with all the local news, weather and sports as well as live newscasts and events as they happen.

news-app-download-apple-350x50
news-app-download-android-350x50

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for all the latest news, weather and sports.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Back to School Stories

More Back to School
Tornado Recovery

Latest Video on WDTN.com

More Latest Video

Only on WDTN.com | Phil Wiedenheft

More profile-65422

Trending Stories

Interactive Radar

More As Seen on 2 NEWS