Julian Assange
Credit: Newsonline/Flickr

There has been a significant development in the saga of Julian Assange.

A British court sentenced Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder, to 50 weeks in prison on Wednesday for jumping bail when he took refuge in Ecuador’s Embassy in London seven years ago.

It’s still not clear if the United States will be successful in its effort to extradite Mr. Assange, but it now appears that he’ll be spending almost all of the next year in a British prison. He’s being punished for violating the terms of his bail after he exhausted all his appeals in a Swedish extradition case.

Here his how the New York Times covered the story back in June 2012:

Last week, Britain’s Supreme Court rejected Mr. Assange’s final appeal in his 18-month legal battle against Sweden, which is seeking to extradite him for questioning about allegations of sexual abuse and rape made by two women in Stockholm in 2010. Barring intervention from the European Court of Human Rights, the British justices said, Mr. Assange would be sent to Sweden by midnight on July 7.

Assange asserted at the time that the rape charges against him were false and that Sweden would re-extradite him to the United States to face punishment for his role in the 2010 Bradley/Chelsea Manning leaks of classified military material. His lawyer said the alleged victims were “honey pots” and part of an American intelligence plot to destroy him. They lost that argument in court at the time, and fared no better this time around.

Prior to sentencing, Assange asked for leniency, stating that he was “struggling with difficult circumstances” and rationalized his violation of the law, “I did what I thought at the time was the best or perhaps the only thing that I could have done.” Then he gave a classic non-apology apology: “I regret the course that that has taken.”

It seems doubtful that Assange will be able to repeat his 2016 election meddling performance in 2020, although he should be done with his current term of incarceration before Election Day. The Russians will need to find a new coconspirator.

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Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly. See all his writing at ProgressPond.com