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01 May 2019 13:18
People protest outside Southwark Crown Court in London where WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was sentenced. (Reuters/Henry Nicholls)
Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has been sentenced to 50 weeks in jail by a UK court for a bail breach offence.
Assange was accused of sexual offences in Sweden in 2010, and after exhausting his legal options to fight an extradition order, the 47-year-old Australian whistle-blower fled to the Ecuadorian embassy on June 19 2012. Ten days later, a warrant for his arrest was issued.
He claimed the allegations were a pretext to transfer him to the United States, where he feared prosecution over release by WikiLeaks of millions of classified documents.
There is no longer an active investigation in Sweden and the extradition request has lapsed.
His defence team argued on Wednesday that he had “suffered enough”, comparing his living conditions inside the Ecuadorian embassy to being “akin to prison”.
During sentencing Judge Deborah Taylor reportedly told Assange: “It’s difficult to envisage a more serious example of this offence.” Taylor told Assange he had exploited his privileged position to flout the law.
Kiri Rupiah is the Mail & Guardian’s online editor. Read more from Kiri Rupiah
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