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How Julian Assange, WikiLeaks Co-founder, Has Spent Last 13 Years Since Arrest

February 20, 2024
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Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, is poised to launch what may be his final effort to halt his extradition from the United Kingdom to the United States after more than 13 years of legal battles in English courts. This development comes as US prosecutors seek to try the 52-year-old on 18 counts, including one under the Espionage Act.

Born in Townsville, Australia, in July 1971, Assange gained early recognition as a skilled computer programmer. Despite a hacking incident in 1995, for which he received a fine but avoided jail time, he continued his education at Melbourne University, studying physics and mathematics.

Assange founded WikiLeaks in 2006, creating an online platform for potential leakers. The organization gained global attention in 2010 after releasing a classified video of a US helicopter attack in Baghdad, followed by the publication of thousands of classified US military documents related to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as diplomatic cables from US embassies worldwide.

In November 2010, Assange was detained in the UK following allegations of sexual offenses in Sweden. Despite his denials and concerns about extradition to the US, he was eventually arrested by British authorities in December 2010. Seeking asylum, he entered the Ecuadorian Embassy in London in June 2012.

Living in cramped conditions at the embassy, Assange remained there until April 2019, when Ecuador revoked his asylum and he was arrested by British police. Sentenced to 50 weeks in prison for violating bail, he continued to fight extradition to the US, where he faced charges related to the WikiLeaks publications.

After a lengthy legal battle, a British judge ruled in January 2021 against his extradition due to mental health concerns. However, the US won an appeal in December 2021, and the British Home Secretary granted extradition in June 2022.

Assange’s legal team is set to launch a final appeal in English courts on Tuesday. If unsuccessful, his only option to prevent extradition would be to appeal to the European Court of Human Rights.

If extradited, Assange could face a lengthy prison sentence in the US. His supporters argue that a conviction could result in up to 175 years in prison, though US prosecutors have suggested a shorter sentence.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by The Kashmir Monitor staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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