Julian Assange to remain in jail pending extradition to US WikiLeaks founder’s custody will be extended after current prison terms comes to end
Julian Assange gestures from the window of a prison van on his way to court in June. Photograph: Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP/Getty Images
Julian Assange will stay in prison after the custody period on his current jail term ends because of his “history of absconding”.
As home secretary, Sajid Javid signed an order in June allowing Assange’s extradition to the US over hacking allegations. A 50-week jail term was imposed in the UK after he had jumped previous bail by going into hiding in the Ecuadorian embassy in London.
The WikiLeaks founder would have been released from HMP Belmarsh on 22 September, Westminster magistrates court heard on Friday, but he was told he would be kept in jail because of “substantial grounds” for believing he would abscond again.
Assange, 48, who is an Australian citizen, appeared by video-link wearing a loose-fitting T-shirt.
District judge Vanessa Baraitser told him: “You have been produced today because your sentence of imprisonment is about to come to an end. When that happens your remand status changes from a serving prisoner to a person facing extradition.
“Therefore I have given your lawyer an opportunity to make an application for bail on your behalf and she has declined to do so, perhaps not surprisingly in light of your history of absconding in these proceedings.
“In my view I have substantial ground for believing if I release you, you will abscond again.”
Assange was asked if he understood what was happening. He replied: “Not really. I’m sure the lawyers will explain it.”
Another administrative hearing will take place on 11 October and a case management hearing on 21 October, the court heard. The final extradition hearing is expected in February.
Assange entered the Ecuadorian embassy in 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he was wanted in connection with sexual offence allegations.He spent nearly seven years living in the building until police dragged him out in April after Ecuador revoked his political asylum.
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