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Julian Assange sentenced to 50 weeks in British jail for skipping bail

Adrian Dennis, AFP | Wikileaks founder Julian Assange speaks on the balcony of the Embassy of Ecuador in London on May 19, 2017. He was sentenced on May 1 to nearly a year in prison for skipping bail in 2012.

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange was sentenced by a London court on Wednesday to 50 weeks in jail for skipping bail.

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Assange broke bail to enter the Ecuadorean embassy almost seven years ago. He was dragged out of the embassy last month and charged by the United States for one of the biggest ever leaks of classified information.

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

She rejected his claim for leniency based on the nearly seven years he spent in the Ecuadorian Embassy.

The white-haired Assange stood impassively with his hands clasped while the sentence was read. His supporters in the public gallery chanted "Shame on you" at the judge as Assange was led away.

Julian Assange: nearly a decade of controversy

Assange sought asylum in the South American country's London embassy in June 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he was wanted for questioning over rape and sexual assault allegations.

Earlier, his lawyers argued that he had jumped bail because he was a "desperate man" fearing extradition to the United States.

Judge Deborah Taylor said Assange had exploited his privileged position to flout the law and express his disdain for British justice.

(FRANCE 24 with AP and REUTERS)

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