FILE - In this May 19, 2017 file photo, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange gestures to supporters outside the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where he has been in self imposed exile since 2012. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein, File)

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

Julian Assange’s seven years in the embassy had cost British taxpayers 16 million pounds

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 offence 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.”

READ MORE: U.S. charges Wikileaks’ Assange with conspiring with Manning

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.

READ MORE: Lawyer alleges Ecuador spread lies about WikiLeaks founder

___

Associated Press writer Jill Lawless contributed.

Gregory Katz, The Associated Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Vandals break windows in Port Alberni heritage train cars

Damage in the thousands of dollars, says Industrial Heritage Society

Fire destroys mysterious travel trailer in Port Alberni alley

Port Alberni Fire Dept. security cameras capture start of fire

Port Alberni wants to bring back bed races for annual Salmon Fest

Veteran racer recalls thrill of racing a handcrafted bed through city streets

Semi-truck crashes on Hwy. 4 between Port Alberni and Tofino-Ucluelet

Drivers heading in or out of Tofino-Ucluelet Friday afternoon should expect delays

Port Alberni city council reveals 2019-2023 strategic plan

Strategies include revitalization, truck route, public safety

VIDEO: Langley Ribfest met with protesters

Groups that oppose the event for various reasons plan to be on site each of the three days.

Canadians killed in Afghanistan honoured during emotional dedication ceremony

One-hundred-fifty-eight Canadian soldiers died during the mission

It’s snow joke: Up to 30 cm of snow expected to fall in northeastern B.C.

Alaska Highway, Fort Nelson to be hit with August snowstorm, according to Environment Canada

‘I’m just absolutely disgusted’: Husband furious after B.C. Mountie’s killer gets day parole

Kenneth Fenton was sentenced to prison after he fatally struck Const. Sarah Beckett’s cruiser

Sea-to-Sky Gondola in B.C. likely out of commission until 2020

Sea to Sky Gondola carries between 1,500 and 3,000 people every day during the summer season

Helicopter-riding dog Mr. Bentley now featured on cans of new B.C.-made beer

Partial proceeds from every pack go to Children’s Wish

PHOTOS: Weapons seized at Portland right-wing rally, counterprotests

Not all who gathered Saturday were with right-wing groups or antifa

Ferries employees participating in Denman Island cleanup for plastic-shedding ferry

The cleanup comes a few weeks after one organized by residents of the Island

Discussion on grief and loss between Stephen Colbert, Anderson Cooper goes viral

The exchange includes emotional question from Cooper, and outlook on grief as a child

Most Read