Whistleblower sentenced to almost a year in prison for skipping UK bail
Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has been sentenced to 50 weeks in prison for skipping bail in the UK.
Assange received his jail sentence in a UK court on Wednesday for jumping bail in Great Britain in 2012.
Judge Deborah Taylor said Assange merited near the maximum sentence of one year due to the seriousness of his offense.
She rejected Mr. Assange’s claim for leniency because of the nearly seven years he spent in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.
According to CBC, the white-haired Assange stood impassively with his hands clasped while the sentence was read at London’s Southwark Crown Court.
His supporters in the public gallery chanted “shame on you” at the judge as Assange was led away.
Assange sought asylum in the South American country’s London Embassy in June 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he was wanted for questioning over rape and sexual assault allegations.
Earlier, Assange apologized unreservedly for skipping bail and holing up in the Ecuadorian embassy while his lawyers argued that he had jumped bail because he was a “desperate man” fearing extradition to the United States.
In a letter read by attorney Mark Summers, Assange said he found himself “struggling with terrifying circumstances” and did what he thought best.
According to the Daily Mail, the Wikileaks founder stood impassively with his hands clasped as the 50-week sentence was read out, while supporters in the public gallery chanted “no justice in the UK” and “shame on you” at the judge as police called for reinforcements over their radios.
Earlier, Assange “apologized unreservedly” in a letter read to the court, but this did little to sway the judge, who gave him just shy of the maximum one-year sentence and rejected calls for leniency based on the seven years he spent in the embassy.
The 47-year-old’s lawyer had told a packed Court One at Southwark Crown Court that his client was forced to act because he feared ‘kidnap and torture’ by the US.
Assange, wearing a black jacket over a grey sweatshirt and sporting a clipped beard, wore a blank expression as his defense lawyer read out the threats made against him by American politicians and officials, which he said left him “terrified.”
But in her sentencing remarks, Judge Deborah Taylor said:
“It’s difficult to envisage a more serious example of this offense.
“By hiding in the embassy you deliberately put yourself out of reach, while remaining in the UK…
“In so doing, you exploited your privileged position to flout the law.”