WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been sentenced to 50 weeks in jail for jumping bail in 2012 and taking refuge in Ecuador’s embassy in London, where he was until being arrested on April 11. The sentence is just two weeks short of the maximum allowed by British law.
“It is difficult to envisage a more serious example of this offense,” Judge Deborah Taylor was reported to have told Assange. “By hiding in the embassy you deliberately put yourself out of reach, while remaining in the U.K.”
Assange argued that he should not serve the term, since he was effectively imprisoned during his time at the Ecuadorian embassy.
Assange also faces US federal conspiracy charges related to leaks of government secrets. WikiLeaks collaborated with several media organizations in 2010 to release documents that presented a negative view of the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan. He was also accused of conspiring with former U.S. Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to crack a password that would have allowed her to break into a U.S. government computer system.
Manning is currently imprisoned on contempt of court charges for refusing to testify before a grand jury investigating Assange.
Assange has also drawn the attention of special counsel Robert Mueller, who concluded that emails from Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign that WikiLeaks published were stolen by Moscow.
“I apologize unreservedly to those who consider that I have disrespected them by the way I have pursued my case,” Assange said in a letter read in court by his attorney, Mark Summers. “This is not what I wanted or intended.”