Julian Assange Sentenced to 50 Weeks in Prison

Wikileaks co-founder Julian Assange has now been sentenced to 50 weeks in prison. All this as political uncertainty sets in.

Last month, Wikileaks co-founder Julian Assange was arrested at the Ecuadorian embassy in the UK. The arrest comes after the US gave the new Ecuadorian government a major loan which, some speculate, was made in exchange for revoking Assange’s political asylum. Digital rights advocates have since raised concerns over what his arrest means for journalism as a whole.

Now, the award winning journalist is beginning to learn his fate. According to the BBC, Assange is being sentenced to 50 weeks in prison for avoiding bail. From the report:

In a letter read to the court, Assange said he had found himself “struggling with difficult circumstances”.

He apologised to those who “consider I’ve disrespected them”, a packed Southwark Crown Court heard.

“I did what I thought at the time was the best or perhaps the only thing that I could have done,” he said.

In mitigation, Mark Summers QC said his client was “gripped” by fears of rendition to the US over the years because of his work with whistle-blowing website Wikileaks.

“As threats rained down on him from America, they overshadowed everything,” he said.

Now, it’s worth pointing out that Sweden didn’t actually formally charge Assange while he was holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy. For Wikileaks part, several offers were made to satisfy Swedish authorities “investigation”. This includes an offer for Swedish authorities to visit him in the embassy and ask all the questions they want. Sweden, for its part, refused.

Assange then went further and offered a deal. That deal being that Assange would turn him over to Swedish authorities on the condition that he would not be extradited to the United States. Sweden refused that offer as well. So, it doesn’t take a genius to think that there are other reasons Sweden wants him – namely so Sweden could extradite Assange to the US. That’s largely where the stalemate actually came from as far as Assange and Sweden were concerned.

So, for now, the journalist will be spending that 50 weeks in jail. At this point, it’ll certainly be of interest to see how Sweden reacts to all of this. There has been interest from Sweden to re-open their case, but we’re not familiar with any further details at this point.

In this high stakes political issue, every move made will be followed in great detail. We’ll continue to keep an eye on things for any further developments.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Facebook.

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