WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange Sentenced to 50 Weeks in Jail, Still Faces Extradition to US

A British court found Assange guilt of jumping bail when he took up residence in Ecuador’s embassy in London seven years ago

Last Updated: May 1, 2019 @ 6:28 AM

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on Tuesday was sentenced to 50 weeks in jail for jumping bail in the U.K. seven years ago and seeking refuge in Ecuador’s embassy in London.

The sentencing comes one day before a scheduled hearing in another London court over extradition to the U.S., where Assange has been charged with conspiring to hack into a Pentagon computer network and the subsequent release of thousands of classified U.S. government documents. (He has denied the charge.)

Deborah Taylor, the judge at London’s Southwark Crown Court, said she chose a near-maximum sentence because of Assange’s “deliberate attempt to delay justice,” according to USA Today. She also said that the Australian national’s seven years of asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy had cost British taxpayers about $21 million.

Assange was arrested last month inside the Ecuadorian embassy after the nation’s president revoked political asylum that had been granted in June 2012 so Assange could avoid extradition to Sweden, where he was wanted for questioning over rape and sexual assault allegations. (Those charges were subsequently dropped, though Sweden has left open the possibility it could still pursue its criminal case, according to the New York Times.)

“Julian Assange’s sentence is as shocking as it is vindictive,” WikiLeaks said in a tweet. “We have grave concerns as to whether he will receive a fair extradition hearing in the U.K.”