The Catch-up: What will happen to Julian Assange now?

What happened?

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was jailed for 50 weeks today for breaking the condition of his bail over an allegation of sexual assault in 2012. Mr Assange spent seven years living in the Ecuadorian embassy in London to avoid returning to Sweden, where he feared he would be extradited to the US to face charges over the leaks of hundreds of thousands of classified US diplomatic cables on his whistleblowing website. He was arrested and dragged from the embassy on 11 April after a souring of relations with embassy staff led to a revocation of his asylum in the building.

What will happen to him now?

Mr Assange claims he is the victim of a ‘witch hunt’ on the part of the US and would not face a fair trial in America. There are two ways he could be forced back. The charges against Mr Assange in Sweden have been suspended after authorities ruled they could not continue without direct access to him. The deadline to reopen some cases has expired, but Sweden could reopen the case of one accusation or rape until 2020. If this happens, the UK would extradite Assange to Sweden in accordance with EU law. From here it is likely he would be extradited again to the US where he is accused of ‘conspiring to knowingly access a computer without authorisation to obtain information classified as secret’.

Alternatively the UK could decide to extradite Assange to the US. The arrangement between the UK and US is different and there are a number of grounds on which the UK could refuse, such as if there is a possibility Assange could face the death penalty. Jeremy Corbyn argues that the Government should refuse to extradite Mr Assange because “he is being pursued because he has exposed wrongdoing by US administrations and their military forces”.

Read more:
Footage shows Assange’s erratic behaviour inside embassy (The Independent)
Judge reveals Assange asylum cost UK taxpayer £16m (The Telegraph)
Assange ‘spied on by Ecuador’s diplomatic staff at embassy’ (The Independent)
Police arrest of Julian Assange ‘was kidnap’ (Press Association)

On Thursday, Julian Assange will face a hearing about his potential extradition to the US over the allegation he conspired with intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to infiltrate Pentagon computers. Critics accuse the US of a ‘witch-hunt’ after Assange revealed evidence of wrongdoing. Should the UK send him to the US to face trial? Have your say below:

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