Julian Assange Found Guilty by UK Court of Failing to Surrender on 2012 Rape Charges

WikiLeaks founder faces up to a year in prison for not turning himself in and staying in the Ecuadorian embassy to avoid extradition on sexual assault charges

Last Updated: April 11, 2019 @ 10:16 AM

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange faces up to a year in prison after a London court on Thursday convicted him of skipping bail and failing to surrender to authorities by hiding in the Ecuadorian Embassy in 2012 to avoid extradition on a sexual assault accusation.

The sexual assault charges in Sweden have since been dropped, but an arrest warrant remained open against the WikiLeaks founder.

Assange, according to Reuters, pleaded not guilty and will be sentenced at a later date.

Assange was found guilty only hours after arriving at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Thursday, according to The Independent, and branded “narcissist by the presiding judge.

The conviction comes after Ecuador President Lenin Moreno abruptly withdrew the country’s offer of asylum in its London embassy to Assange on Thursday.

The U.S. Justice Department announced that it is seeking extradition so that the 47-year-old Australian national can face a federal charge of conspiracy to commit computer intrusion for agreeing to help break a password to a classified U.S. government computer.

According to the indictment, in March 2010, Assange conspired with former U.S. Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to crack a password stored on U.S. Department of Defense computers connected to the Secret Internet Protocol Network (SIPRNet), a U.S. government network used for classified documents and communications.

Manning, who had access to the computers, downloaded thousands of classified records to transmit to WikiLeaks in one of the largest breaches of classified information in U.S. history.

Assange’s lawyer, Jennifer Robinson, tweeted that her client “has been arrested not just for breach of bail conditions but also in relation to a US extradition request.”

In a tweet, WikiLeaks said Ecuador “has illegally terminated Assange political asylum in violation of international law.” In a subsequent tweet, the organization said: “Powerful actors, including CIA, are engaged in a sophisticated effort to dehumanize, delegitimize and imprison him.”

Assange has been holed up in a back room of the embassy for nearly seven years after seeking asylum there to avoid extradition to Sweden on a rape accusation — which he denied and was later dropped.

Moreno said his country “had reached its limit” with Assange in a statement reported by the BBC that cited WikiLeaks’ January 2019 release of secret Vatican documents. “This and other publications have confirmed the world’s suspicion that Mr Assange is still linked to WikiLeaks and therefore involved in interfering in internal affairs of other states,” Moreno said.