The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss the “shocking and vindictive” sentence handed down by a UK court to Julian Assange for the crime of skipping bail.
WikiLeaks slammed the excessive verdict, and 50-week prison sentence in a maximum security facility, connected to skipping bail back in 2012.
On a separate legal front Julian Assange told a British judge that he wished to fight extradition, as the Wikileaks founder appeared in the first hearing in what’s expected to be a long legal battle over the US’s extradition request. The hearing was concluded with the next court date set for May 30.
Assange, whom the US has charged with conspiring with Chelsea Manning to break into a government computer, a charge that carries a maximum prison term of 5.5 years, appeared on screen wearing a sports jacket. He wasn’t handcuffed. And when asked if he would consent to surrender to the US, he replied that he did not wish to do so, according to CNN.
Assange, speaking from Belmarsh prison, was wearing a sports jacket and was not handcuffed.
Asked by Judge Michael Snow if he wished to consent to surrender himself for extradition, Assange said: “I do not wish to surrender myself for extradition for doing journalism that’s won many, many awards and affected many people.”
His appearance came a day after another judge slapped him with a 50-week sentence for skipping bail back in 2012.
Assange’s legal team has yet to publicize its defense strategy, but most expect them to argue that the request is politically motivated. Meanwhile, Hrafnsson declared that it’s Wikileaks’ view that the charges cited by the US in the extradition request are merely a ruse, and that Assange will be charged with violating the 1970 Espionage Act once he’s safely on American soil – a charge that could carry the death penalty.
“Everything in this case seems to indicate that what is being established is a violation of the espionage act of 1970 which carries the death penalty,” Hrafnsson explained. “Although the extradition is based on a lower level of offenses, we think that is basically a snaring strategy to get him to United States where additional charges will be added.”
Protesters gathered outside the courthouse before the hearing (during which Assange participated by video link; he was being held in a high-security prison).
— Socialist Equality Party (Britain) (@SEP_Britain) May 2, 2019
WikiLeaks has slammed a UK court’s sentencing of its co-founder Julian Assange as “vindictive.” It also raised major concerns about whether Assange will be treated fairly during an upcoming extradition hearing.
The sentence “is as shocking as it is vindictive,” WikiLeaks said on Twitter on Wednesday, shortly after Assange received almost a year in prison for violating bail conditions.
Julian Assange's sentence is as shocking as it is vindictive. We have grave concerns as to whether he will receive a fair extradition hearing in the UK.
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) May 1, 2019
We have grave concerns as to whether he will receive a fair extradition hearing in the UK.
Julian Assange skipped bail in 2012 while wanted in Sweden over rape allegations (the case was later dropped). The journalist then spent the next several years living under asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, out of fear Britain would hand him over to the US. He was forcibly dragged out of the building last month after the South American nation decided to evict him.
The arrest drew the ire of activists, journalists, and politicians who slammed it as a major threat to freedom of the press.
In the US, Assange was charged with “conspiracy” while working with whistleblower Chelsea Manning, who obtained classified data from a Pentagon computer, which was subsequently published by WikiLeaks. Among the leaked files was footage of US troops killing civilians in Baghdad.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.