High-profile information transparency advocate and co-founder of Wikileaks, Julian Assange, has been sentenced by a British court to 50 weeks in prison for breaching bail conditions after he was forced to leave the Ecuadorian embassy in which he has been seeking refuge since 2012. This according to a report by the BBC, May 1, 2019.
50 Weeks Behind Bars for Violating the Bail Act
Julian Assange was sentenced in Southwark Crown Court to 50 weeks behind bars for breaching the Bail Act.
Assange sought asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy in London in 2012 after he was accused of sexual assault in Sweden, which would have meant extradition to Sweden and then – with high likelihood – to the U.S. Assange has denied the charges against him and wanted to avoid potential extradition to the US via Sweden, where he feared he would be unfairly punished for the revelations that Wikileaks has brought to light.
In regards to seeking refuge in the Ecuduaron embassy, Assange stated:
“I did what I thought at the time was the best or perhaps the only thing that I could have done.”
Judge Deborah Taylor, who sentenced Assange, stated that it was difficult to imagine a more serious example of breaching bail, explaining:
“By hiding in the embassy you deliberately put yourself out of reach, while remaining in the UK. […] Whilst you may have had fears as to what may happen to you, nonetheless you had a choice, and the course of action you chose was to commit this offense,”
The verdict was reportedly followed with “shame on you” chants from Assange supporters in the courtroom directed at Judge Taylor after Assange left the courtroom with his fist raised to his supporters.