Julian Assange sentenced to 50 weeks in British jail for skipping bail
Almaty. May 2. KazTAG - WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was sentenced to 50 weeks in prison by a British court on Wednesday for skipping bail when he holed up in Ecuador’s London embassy for seven years until police dragged him out last month, reports Reuters.
Assange sought refuge in the embassy in June 2012 to avoid an extradition order to Sweden over an allegation of rape, which he denies.
His lawyer argued it was an act of desperation to avoid being passed to the United States to face action over the release of thousands of secret U.S. diplomatic cables.
Many of the documents related to wars, national security and other issues, and some were often highly critical appraisals of world leaders such Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Saudi royal family. The United States has charged him with conspiracy and seeks his extradition.
But handing down what was nearly the maximum possible sentence, Judge Deborah Taylor told Assange he had exploited his privileged position to flout the law and express his disdain for British justice.
“Whilst you may have had fears as to what may happen to you, nonetheless you had a choice,” Taylor told Assange, dressed in a black jacket and gray sweatshirt, at Southwark Crown Court.
“It is difficult to envisage a more serious example of this offence.”
Assange made international headlines in early 2010 when WikiLeaks published a classified U.S. military video showing a 2007 attack by Apache helicopters in Baghdad that killed a dozen people, including two Reuters news staff.
To some, Assange is a hero for exposing what supporters cast as abuse of power by modern states and for championing free speech. But to others, he is a dangerous rebel who has undermined U.S. security.
After his sentence was announced, supporters in the public gallery got to their feet to cheer him, before raising their arms and chanting “shame on you” to the court.
Photo source: picture from an open source