Britain jails Wikileaks founder Julian Assange for 50 weeks
London, May 1, 2019 (AltAfrica)-Julian Assange has been sentenced to just under a year in jail for breaching bail conditions after spending almost seven years inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London.
A judge largely rejected the mitigating factors put forward by lawyers for the WikiLeaks founder, who had also penned a letter in which he expressed regret for his actions but claimed he had been left with no choice.
Assange, who took refuge in the embassy in 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden on rape accusations, was arrested on 11 April after Quito terminated his asylum.
The 47-year-old was appearing at Southwark crown court, where Judge Deborah Taylor said that he had engaged in a “deliberate attempt to evade justice”.
To gasps from a few dozen Assange supporters in the public gallery, the judge said that a number of factors put his refusal to surrender in the highest tier – category A – of the offence.
By entering the embassy he deliberately put himself out of range of investigators, she told Assange.
“You exploited your privileged position to flout the law and advertised internationally your disdain for the law of this country,” she added.
She also told him that even though he did cooperate initially with the investigation “it was not for you to decide the nature of your cooperation with the Swedish investigation” and his continued residency in the embassy had been an attempt to delay and thwart the process.
The judge also referred to the expenditure of £16m of taxpayers’ money on policing resources outside the embassy for the period in which he was there.
“It is essential that no one is above or beyond the reach of the law,” she concluded, before sentencing Assange to 50 weeks.
Counsel for Assange had laid out a number of mitigating factors, claiming that Assange lived in fear of being rendered from Sweden to the US, where politicians had talked of having him assassinated.
The case of Chelsea Manning and the conditions in which the US military whistleblower was kept was also instanced, as was the case of individuals who were rendered from Sweden to the US in chains and after being drugged for transatlantic flights (Guardian UK)