WikiLeaks founder Assange gets 50 weeks in prison for bail breach
By Bill Smith
A court sentenced WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to 50 weeks in prison on Wednesday, after he was found guilty of breaching bail conditions in Britain.
Police dragged Australian citizen Assange, 47, out of the Ecuadorian embassy in London on April 11 after he had spent seven years inside the building to avoid arrest.
Assange was found guilty the same day of failing to surrender to British authorities over a 2010 warrant linked to sexual assault charges in Sweden, which were later dropped.
Assange, who had pleaded not guilty to skipping bail, read a letter to Southwark Crown Court on Wednesday in which he apologized to people who consider that he had “disrespected” them, the BBC and other British media reported.
“I did what I thought at the time was the best or perhaps the only thing that I could have done,” he said in the letter.
Assange raised a fist to his supporters in court, some of whom shouted “shame on you” at the judge, the broadcaster said.
He is also the subject of a US extradition request linked to charges of conspiring with former US military intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to leak a trove of classified material in 2010.
A separate hearing on the US extradition case is scheduled to open on Thursday. Assange plans to fight extradition, his lawyer said.
President Lenin Moreno said Ecuador terminated Assange’s asylum because he repeatedly violated international conventions and WikiLeaks had threatened Quito.
The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, a panel of independent legal scholars, ruled in 2016 that Assange had been subject to arbitrary detention since his arrest in London in 2010 in connection with allegations of rape and sexual assault in Sweden.
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