Published: Sat, April 13, 2019
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

Wikileaks Founder Julian Assange Held In London Jail Ahead Of Legal Fight

Wikileaks Founder Julian Assange Held In London Jail Ahead Of Legal Fight

Within hours of police hauling him out of the embassy on Thursday, the 47-year-old Australian appeared in court for breaching his British bail conditions in 2012 and to face a subsequent USA extradition request.

For almost seven years, Assange lived in the embassy without taking a step outside for fear of being arrested and sent to the be prosecuted.

Diane Abbott, Labour's spokeswoman for domestic affairs, said the government should block the extradition on human rights grounds. By December that year, the Stockholm Criminal Court had issued an worldwide arrest warrant and Assange - who has always proclaimed his innocence - handed himself into British police.

The politicization of the case reflects the clashing views of Assange as either a heroic whistleblower standing up to the mighty United States or a willing stooge who helped the Russians boost Donald Trump's presidential campaign by publishing hacked emails that embarrassed his rival, Hillary Clinton.

James also pointed out that Assange had skipped bail before being extradited to Sweden to face sexual assault charges, acknowledging that the situation was complicated.

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange was arrested on Thursday at Ecuador's London embassy, where he had been granted asylum since 2012.

He is now on remand in custody awaiting sentencing at Southwark Crown Court over his bail breach.

Assange was arrested earlier Thursday at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, and the USA has charged him with conspiring with former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to break into a classified government computer at the Pentagon.

If found guilty of the US charges, Assange could get five years in prison.

Ecuador had revoked the asylum he was granted after seeking refuge in the embassy in 2012, The Times reports.

Swedish prosecutors dropped the rape investigation into Assange in 2017 because they were unable to formally notify him of the allegations while he stayed in the embassy.

He added other factors stacked against Assange included "the weight which the United Kingdom courts attach to the trust and co-operation between the two countries and the effort the USA will likely put in".

He had spent seven years in Ecuador's London embassy, evading trial in Sweden for sex assaults which he has denied.

"Mr. Assange's behaviour is that of a narcissist who can not get beyond his own selfish interests", Snow said.

The Wikileaks founder will next appear at Westminster Magistrates' Court on May 2 by prison video-link in relation to the extradition.

Extradition lawyer Ben Keith said the court will not assess the evidence against Assange to determine his guilt or innocence but will scrutinize whether the offence he is accused of in the US would be a crime in Britain. The official declined to say whether further charges were likely, but legal experts have said they are certainly possible. "If he, at a later date, makes himself available, I will be able to decide to resume the investigation immediately", she said. In rare cases where USA law would allow the death penalty, such as first-degree murder or terrorism, US officials typically facilitate extradition by providing assurances to Britain that capital punishment would not be sough, Keith added.

"Julian Assange can not be extradited to Sweden when the European arrest warrant against him was withdrawn as early as May 2017".

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