Crown Court in London Sentences Julian Assange to 50 Weeks in Jail For Skipping Bail!
There's some more news. The Crown Court in London has sentenced the WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, to 50 weeks in jail. That's almost a year for jumping bail. Assange's arrest and sentence caused protests by both journalists and rights-defending communities around the world.
Our special correspondent in London, Alexandr Khabarov, kept tabs on the process.
It's Julian Assange's second appearance in front of cameras since his arrest. Everyone noticed the disappearance of the long beard. The WikiLeaks founder had his hair neatly cut.
His followers lined up at the court's building in order to express their support. But their presence, just as his lawyers' efforts, didn't change a thing. The judge sentenced Julian Assange to 50 weeks in jail. It's just short of a year, the maximum jail term here for jumping bail.
Kristinn Hrafnsson, WikiLeaks: «This ruling shows us that we shouldn't trust in British justice. The jail term he was sentenced to turned out to be just two weeks less than the maximum term for this type of violation. It's lawlessness. Let me give you an example. A murderer was recently sentenced to six months in prison, which is a shorter sentence. But we'll continue to fight».
In his letter to the court, Assange tried to explain that his decision to hide in Ecuador’s Embassy in 2012 was dictated by the circumstances he got into. And he expected the criminal lawsuit instigated against him in Sweden to be eventually called off. His lawyers argued that the defendant feared the following extradition to the USA with a threat of capital punishment. The judge, in his turn, calculated that the police surveillance operation, while Assange was hiding in the embassy, cost the taxpayers £16 million. The WikiLeaks founder spent nearly seven years in this impelled confinement. Now, a year in an English jail has been added. It's not improbable that this term is not the last for him.
The sentence for jumping bail is just one stage in Julian Assange's judicial saga. Now, he's about to fight against extradition to the United States of America. In the USA, the WikiLeaks founder is charged with conspiracy with a U.S. Army officer Chelsea Manning, aimed at accessing classified materials. For this, according to the prosecutors, he may be sentenced to five years in prison. Assange's lawyers still insist that extradition to the USA presents a danger to their defendant's life.
Jennifer Robinson, Assange's lawyer: «Julian Assange's case is connected and has always been connected with a risk of extradition to the USA. Since 2010, we've been saying that this risk is real. There is a preliminary request for extradition on the part of the USA. And now, we're going to fight against the extradition in the first place. And this fight starts tomorrow».
The process concerning the extradition starts on May 2nd at the Westminster Magistrates' Court. The lawsuit is expected to last for a long time. While it continues, Assange will stay in detention.
Alexandr Khabarov, Ilya Mordyukov, Vesti, London.