On June 14, 2019, a judge in London ruled in favor of an extradition hearing for Julian Assange. Assange is set to appear before a British court in February 2020 in a hearing on whether the WikiLeaks founder should be extradited to the U.S. on 18 counts of espionage. He is currently serving a 50-week sentence in Belmarsh Prison in southeast London for bail violations after taking refuge in the Ecuadorian Embassy in a bid to avoid extradition to Sweden to face rape allegations in 2012. At that time, Assange claimed that Sweden’s real motivation was to send him to the United States for criminal prosecution in retaliation for his exposure of U.S. government activity.
For more on Julian Asssange’s work, see the section entitled What is Wikileaks? below; for more on the rape allegations against Assange in Sweden, see the section entitled Manipulation of a Serious Offense.
Following the June 14 hearing, officials at Southwark Crown Court, where Assange was jailed for a bail breach, confirmed an appeal had been lodged against the sentence. Assange had spent seven years inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London before being handed over to British authorities. On April 11, 2019, the Ecuadorian government allowed British police to enter its embassy and arrest him. He is now in a hospital inside a British maximum-security prison due to his failing health, the result of seven years under de facto house arrest inside the Ecuadorian embassy. Under direction of the U.S. government, British police denied medical care to properly treat Assange in the Ecuadorian embassy and denied him the freedom to seek medical treatment. As of this week, Assange’s condition has not yet improved.
Meanwhile, a friend of Assange, Swedish programmer and data privacy activist Ola Bini, was arrested in Ecuador, where he currently resides, on April 11, the same day Assange was taken by British authorities from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. Bini has been jailed ever since without charges. For more about Bini, click here.