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Wikileaks Founder Julian Assange Gets 50 Weeks In Jail For Skipping Bail.

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has been sentenced to 50 weeks in jail for skipping bail and evading the law for seven years by taking refuge in London's Ecuadorean embassy saying he feared extradition to the United States.

Assange was ( sentenced at London's Southwark Crown Court on Wednesday for not reporting to a police station in June 2012 when he was wanted on a case in Sweden relating to rape and sexual assault.

Assange was arrested on April 11 from the Ecuadorian embassy in London, after the host government withdrew his privilege ending his immunity against arrest.

Although Assange sought asylum at the Ecuador embassy to avoid extradition to Sweden, that case has lapsed.

Extradition to the United States likely

The 47-year-old activist now faces extradition to the United States on cases relating to the release of millions of classified government documents by his website WikiLeaks.

The U.S. Justice Department has a pending criminal charge against him for hatching a conspiracy with former U.S. Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to hack a classified government computer.

In the case, Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison for leaking military records. But her sentence was commuted by President Barack Obama in 2017 after she spent seven years in jail.

Assange's statement in the court

In a letter read out in the London court,  Assange ( defended his asylum   request, saying he was "struggling with difficult circumstances."

"I did what I thought at the time was the best or perhaps the only thing that I could have done," Assange said.

But he apologized to those "consider I've disrespected them," at the packed Southwark Crown Court.

Threat from America

Mark Summers, attorney of Assange argued that his client was "gripped by fears of rendition to the US over the years" because of his whistle-blowing website Wikileaks. Summer added that threats had been raining down on his client from America and that "overshadowed everything else."

Judge Deborah Taylor said it was "difficult to envisage a more serious example of this offense." She noted that Assange's asylum in the embassy lasting seven years drained the British taxpayers by 6 million pounds ($21 million) for arranging excessive police security at the embassy building.

The judge concluded that while Assange harbored fears on what could happen to him, he had fair choices before him. But he made the choice to "commit this offense."  

There are also reports that said  ( Assange may approach the European Court of Justice in Strasbourg, which is the final legal arbiter for E.U. states.

Outside the court, pro-Assange demonstrators shouted, "Free, free, Julian Assange!" and waved banners that said, "Assange's freedom is our freedom." 

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Publication:International Business Times - US ed.
Date:May 1, 2019
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