Julian Assange has been sentenced to 50 weeks in jail for breaching his bail conditions in 2012, having sought asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy for seven years over fears of attempts to extradite him to the United States.
Assange issued an apology to those that believed he disrespected them, reiterating his struggles against the fear of extradition to the U.S. where he is likely to face torture and even the death penalty.
“I apologise unreservedly to those who consider that I have disrespected them by the way I have pursued my case. This is not what I wanted or intended. I found myself struggling with terrifying circumstances for which neither I nor those from whom I sought advice could work out any remedy. I did what I thought at the time was the best and perhaps the only thing that could be done – which I hoped might lead to a legal resolution being reached between Ecuador and Sweden that would protect me from the worst of my fears. I regret the course that this took; the difficulties were instead compounded and impacted upon very many others. While the difficulties I now face may have become even greater, nevertheless it is right for me to say this now.”Julian Assange
The sentence, while expected, is seen as unduly harsh given similar sentences that have been given for breaching bail in the past, Wikileaks highlighting the case of the so-called “speedboat killer” Jack Shepherd who fled to Georgia.
Julian Assange had his asylum revoked by Ecuador last month after a $4.2 billion loan was granted to the South American nation by the IMF, Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno blaming Assange for the IMA Papers scandal which has levelled allegations of corruption against the President. Following Assange’s expulsion, Ecuador began a smear campaign against the Australian, claiming he had been disruptive and unclean during his stay at the embassy. The claims were widely debunked, including by former staff at the embassy.
It is feared that Assange will now be extradited to the United States under the pretext of a hacking charge, being charged with espionage once on American soil. The U.S. Department of Justice is said to already be working on a case for the charges, with many believing that redacted sections of the Muller Report refer to this case.
Politicians from across the American spectrum have called for Assange and Wikileaks to be designated as terrorists and enemy combatants, with U.S. President Donald Trump having already called for the death penalty for Assange prior to becoming President.
Christine Assange, the mother to Julian, has stated that British authorities have denied Assange the medical treatment that he requires and are restricting access to his lawyer, a vital need for the former Wikileaks editor as he builds his own case to fight extradition proceedings.