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Assange Refuses Extradition to US; Long Legal Fight Expected

Assange Refuses Extradition to US; Long Legal Fight Expected

But to hear Assange's attorney tell it, the whistleblower skipped out on his bail because he didn't want to be extradited to the U.S. The WikiLeaks founder is perhaps most well-known for publishing hundreds of thousands of classified documents about the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

A British court sentenced WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to 50 weeks in prison Wednesday for jumping bail in 2012.

Assange says he feared being sent to the United States to face charges related to WikiLeaks' publication of classified U.S. military documents.

A demonstrator wears a picture of Julian Assange on his sunglasses outside of Westminster Magistrates Court, where Wikileaks founder Julian Assange had a US extradition request hearing, in London, Britain May 2, 2019.

Just hours after Assange was removed from the Ecuadorean embassy on April 11, USA prosecutors said they had charged Assange with conspiracy in trying to access a classified US government computer with Manning in 2010.

Assange was physically dragged out of embassy on April 11 after claiming asylum and living there for almost 7 years.

Judge Deborah Taylor said Wednesday that Assange merited near the maximum sentence of one year because of the seriousness of his offense.

But the US has requested that Assange be extradited there face charges over the leak of a massive trove of classified American military documents.

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Manning passed hundreds of thousands of classified documents to WikiLeaks, exposing U.S. military wrongdoing in the Iraq war and diplomatic secrets about scores of countries.

In April, the Labour's Shadow Home Secretary, Diane Abbott, said that Assange was being pursued by the United States not to protect national security, but because he had "exposed wrongdoing by USA administrations and their military forces..."

"The full extradition hearing is, I suspect, still many months away", Judge Michael Snow told the court. Assange was unable to learn the password, but the United States argues that his attempt is sufficient to charge him with conspiracy.

Sweden suspended its investigation into possible sexual misconduct against Assange two years ago because he was beyond their reach while he was living in the embassy.

Sweden rescinded its arrest warrant for Assange in May of 2017, largely because there was no point trying to prosecute someone they could not extradite.

Assange has maintained his innocence in connection to the sex abuse allegations, casting it as a ploy for his eventual extradition to the U.S. He will have a right to challenge the extradition request in British courts. He pleaded not guilty to a charge of failing to surrender to police, relating to his flight in 2012, but he was convicted at Westminster Magistrates' Court. On that day the US faces a deadline to reveal any further charges against Assange for which the British courts must base their extradition decision.

"We have grave concerns as to whether he will receive a fair extradition hearing in the UK, " WikiLeaks tweeted.