A British judge sentenced Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks, to 50 weeks in jail on Wednesday for skipping bail seven years ago and holing up at the Ecuadorian embassy.
Judge Deborah Taylor said it was hard to imagine a more serious version of the offense as she handed a sentence near the maximum of one year in custody to the 47-year-old hacker. She said Assange’s seven-year embassy cost British taxpayers 16 million pounds ($ 21 million) and said that he was seeking asylum as a “deliberate attempt to delay justice.”
The white-haired Assange stood impassively with his hands clasped while the sentence was read. His supporters in the public gallery at Southwark Crown Court chanted “Shame on you” at the judge as Assange was led away.
The Australian secret-spiller sought asylum in the South American country’s London embassy in June 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he was wanted for questioning over rape and sexual assault allegations.
Assange’s lawyer Mark Summers told a courtroom packed with journalists and WikiLeaks supporters that his client sought refuge in the Ecuadorian Embassy because “he was living with overwhelming fear of being rendered to the U.S.”
He said Assange had a “well-founded” fear that he would be mistreated and possibly sent to the U.S. detention camp for terrorism suspects at Guantanamo Bay.