WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange jailed until U.S. extradition hearing in May

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WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange jailed until U.S. extradition hearing in May
Assange had lived at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London for seven years before Thursday's arrest.
By Nicholas Sakelaris
APRIL 11, 2019

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange arrives for a court hearing in London on February 2, 2012. File Photo by Hugo Philpott/UPI | License Photo

April 11 (UPI) -- WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange will spend the next three weeks in a British jail before a hearing to determine whether he can be extradited to the United States to face computer hacking charges, a judge ruled Thursday.

The Justice Department unsealed the charges against Assange after his arrest at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. The seven-page indictment said it seeks extradition over a federal charge of "conspiracy to commit computer intrusion for agreeing to break a password to a classified U.S. government computer."

The case accuses Assange of cooperating with military whistle-blower Chelsea Manning in 2010 about leaking classified military documents. If he's convicted, Assange could spend up to five years in prison.

Assange had been at the Ecuadorian Embassy since 2012, when he sought asylum to dodge sexual assault charges in Sweden. A British arrest warrant was issued at the time because he skipped bail. Authorities said he was arrested after Ecuador withdrew its offer of asylum. Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno said the country's patience for Assange "reached its limit" after "repeated violations to international conventions and daily life."

RELATED Ecuador says WikiLeaks claim of Assange's expulsion is false

The 47-year-old journalist appeared before a Westminster Magistrates' Court Thursday in a black suit with a beard and his hair tied back.
His attorneys said Assange jumped bail in 2012 over fears he wouldn't have received a fair trial. The judge called Assange a "narcissist who cannot get beyond his own selfish interest." The judge found Assange guilty of breaking the conditions of his bail and ordered him to return May 2 for an extradition hearing. He will remain in custody until then.

Manning served seven years in prison for her role and was released in 2017. She was jailed again last month for refusing to testify before a grand jury.

The WikiLeaks site is also accused of leaking sensitive information from the email account of 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. Assange has said the source that obtained the information was not Russian, which conflicts with the view of U.S. intelligence. The Ecuadorian government cut off his Internet access after the leak.

Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump's former attorney, testified in Congress that campaign adviser Roger Stone contacted Assange just before the leaked emails went public.

In 2012, the Swedish government issued a warrant for Assange's arrest in connection with sex assault charges against two women there. He denied the accusations and accepted asylum at the embassy. Sweden has since dropped the case, but Assange remained at the embassy because he feared prosecution in the United States.
WikiLeaks, the site Assange founded in 2006, expressed support for him Thursday.

"This man is a son, a father, a brother. He has won dozens of journalism awards. He's been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize every year since 2010. Powerful actors, including CIA, are engaged in a sophisticated effort to dehumanize, delegitimize and imprison him," WikiLeaks wrote in a tweet.

Whistle-blower Edward Snowden, himself protected from U.S. charges by asylum in Russia, also tweeted support.

British officials took a different view.
"Julian Assange is no hero and no one is above the law. He has hidden from the truth for years," British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt tweeted.

https://www.upi.com/Top_News/World-News/2019/04/11/WikiLeaks-founder-Julian-Assange-jailed-until-US-extradition-hearing-in-May/6931554975826/
 

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US Charges Assange With Helping Chelsea Manning Break Into Classified Computers
© REUTERS / Henry Nicholls
11.04.2019

Earlier, UK police confirmed having arrested Assange due to an extradition request from the US over the publication of the country's secret documents.

Speaking at the UK's Westminster Magistrates court after his arrest, Assange's lawyer stated that the WikiLeaks' founder had a reasonable excuse for breaking UK bail, but added that Assange will not be presenting evidence for that. The judge presiding before the court commented on that by stating that inference may be drawn against Assange if he fails to present evidence.
A supporter of Julian Assange holds a poster after prosecutor Ingrid Isgren from Sweden arrived at Ecuador's embassy to interview him in London

© REUTERS / PETER NICHOLLS

Assange Deserves Nobel Prize Instead of Imprisonment – Human Rights Activist

Still, the UK judge found Assange guilty of breaching bail conditions since he failed to present evidence for a "reasonable excuse" and sentenced the whistleblower to a maximum of 12 months in prison. The judge added that the US must present all necessary documentation regarding the extradition request for Assange by 12 June. The WikiLeaks founder's lawyer later vowed that they would be fighting the extradition request. Assange will remain in custody until his next hearing, which is set to take place on 2 May.

READ MORE: Julian Assange Charges: What Are US, Sweden & UK Accusing WikiLeaks Founder of?

The US Department of Justice has announced charges against WikiLeaks' founder Julian Assange, accusing him of conspiring with Chelsea Manning to commit computer intrusion and steal classified data. He can face up to 5 years in a US prison if he is found guilty.

US prosecutors believe that Manning, who was a US Army intelligence analyst in 2010, gave Assange part of a password that was stored on Department of Defence computers connected to the Secret Internet Protocol Network (SIPRNet), allowing access to classified government documents. The DoJ statement also indicated after receiving the archive with secret US cables and war logs from Manning, Assange urged the former analyst to dig up even more information.

READ MORE: WikiLeaks' Founder Julian Assange Arrested in Ecuadorian Embassy in London

CNN reported, citing anonymous sources, that the Department of Justice would be bringing additional charges against Assange, but didn't specify when they would be presented and what those charges would be. In turn, Reuters reported, citing a DoJ official, that no additional charges will be filed.
Julian Assange's cat sits at the window of Ecuador's embassy where WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is taking refuge, in London, Britain

© REUTERS / PETER NICHOLLS
Assange’s Cat Not There, Taken by Assange’s Associates Long Ago - Ecuadorian Embassy

WikiLeaks' founder Julian Assange was arrested inside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London on 11 April over breaching bail conditions and a request for extradition from the US. The arrest came after Ecuador withdrew asylum status citing his alleged repeated violations of his stay in the embassy by meddling in the politics of Ecuador's partners.

Following the withdrawal of the asylum, Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno said that London had assured him that Assange wouldn't be extradited to a country where he could potentially face a death sentence. The same assurance was later reiterated by UK Junior Foreign Minister Alan Duncan.
Assange had been residing in the Ecuadorian Embassy since 2012, after he was released on bail by British authorities. Prior to that, the WikiLeaks founder had been arrested in the UK at Sweden's request, where the whistle-blower was facing rape accusations.

READ MORE: World Reacts to Assange Arrest in UK: From Dark Moment for Freedom to 'No Hero'

Julian Assange denied the accusations, claiming that they were politically motivated and designed to have him deported to the US, noting that the charges were brought up soon after WikiLeaks released US Afghan and Iraq war logs and State Department cables, taken with the help of Chelsea Manning. The charges were dropped in 2017, but Assange refused to leave the embassy out of fear that he could be arrested for breaching his bail conditions and face extradition to the US.

US Charges Assange With Helping Chelsea Manning Break Into Classified Computers
 

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They are done with him. Time to take him down (clear violation of UN Article 14 ) Also who stores classified documents online?🤦‍♂️
 

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Sweden looking at re-filing sex assault case against Julian Assange
By Nicholas Sakelaris


Wikileaks co-founder Julian Assange arrives at Westminster Magistrates Court in London Thursday after his arrest. Photo by EPA-EFE

April 12 (UPI) -- WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange could still face sex assault charges in Sweden in the case that led to his living at the Ecuadorian Embassy in Britain, officials said.

The accusation was first made against Assange in 2012 and led to charges from the Swedish government. The case was later dropped, but Swedish officials said Assange's arrest Thursday may lead to a re-filing of the charges.

Deputy Director of Public Prosecution Eva-Marie Persson said prosecutors will examine the case before determining how to proceed.
"The investigation has not yet been resumed, and we do not know today whether it will be," she said. "We cannot set a timetable for when any such decision will be made."
RELATED WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange jailed until U.S. extradition hearing in May

The accuser contacted Swedish authorities after seeing Assange's arrest at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. Assange is in British jail and faces extradition to the United States on charges he conspired to reveal government secrets and hack into Pentagon computers.

The sex assault case can be re-opened any time before the statute of limitations runs out in August 2020. The case would be handled by the Swedish Prosecution Authority's Development Center in Gothenburg.

Assange attorney Jennifer Robinson said his arrest was a "free speech issue" that sets a dangerous precedent for all media organizations and journalists.

RELATED Lawmakers demand documents from White House for Trump investigation

U.S. prosecutors say Assange was part of a criminal conspiracy to hack and steal information harmful to the United States. He faces up to five years in prison on the hacking charges.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Assange would get no special treatment from his native country or consular offices. He also said Assange has to deal with "whatever comes his way in terms of the justice system."

British Prime Minister Theresa May applauded Assange's arrest, but Labor Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said the British government should oppose the U.S. extradition request because WikiLeaks exposed "evidence of atrocities" in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Sweden looking at re-filing sex assault case against Julian Assange
 

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Assange sentenced to 50 weeks in jail for skipping bail in 2012
May 01, 2019
By Nicholas Sakelaris
Wikileaks co-founder Julian Assange arrives at Southwark Crown Court in London on May 1, 2019. Photo by Neil Hall/EPA-EFE

May 1 (UPI) -- A British court on Wednesday sentenced WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to 50 weeks in jail for skipping bail in 2012, when he began seven years of asylum at Ecuador's Embassy in London.

At the Southwark Crown Court sentencing Wednesday, judge Deborah Taylor said he cost British taxpayers 16 million pounds while he hid away at the embassy compound. A Westminster court last month found him guilty of violating Britain's Bail Act -- just days after he was expelled by the Ecuadorian Embassy and his asylum revoked.

Assange's attorney Mark Summers argued the 47-year-old Australian didn't want to surrender to British authorities at the time because he feared extradition to Sweden and possibly the United States. Last month, U.S. authorities unsealed an indictment that accuses Assange of conspiring with former Army intelligence officer Chelsea Manning to break into defense department computers. He faces an extradition hearing Thursday.

Summers said Assange feared being detained at the U.S. Navy prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, which has housed suspected terrorists for years. The attorney called Assange a "desperate man" who was afraid he'd be "kidnapped" by the United States, and had lived at the Ecuadorian Embassy "under overwhelming fear of rendition."

"It matters little whether his fears were reasonable or unreasonable," Summers said.

In a hand-written letter to the court, Assange apologized "unreservedly" for hiding at the embassy.

"I found myself struggling with terrifying circumstances. I did what I thought at the time was the best and only solution," his letter said.

British authorities spent nearly $21 million securing Ecuador's Embassy during the seven-year stay -- all the while as Assange mocked them from inside, Taylor said.

Assange's father has asked British authorities to return him to Australia. He said in an interview last month the Ecuadorians made a deal with the United States -- to expel Assange in London in exchange for a loan through the International Monetary Fund, The Washington Post reported.

 

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