London: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange will remain in prison even when his jail term ends because of his “history of absconding”, a judge ruled on Friday. Assange was due to be released on September 22 after serving his sentence for breaching bail conditions. But Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard that there were “substantial grounds” for believing he would abscond again, according to the BBC. The 48-year-old Australian is fighting extradition to the US over allegations of leaking government secrets. He will face a full extradition hearing in 2020, starting on February 25, after an extradition request was signed by the then Home Secretary Sajid Javid in June.
Julian Assange received a 50-week sentence in Belmarsh Prison, southeast London, after being found guilty of breaching the Bail Act in April. He was arrested at the Ecuadorian Embassy, where he took refuge in 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden over sexual assault allegations – which he has denied.
District Judge Vanessa Baraitser on Friday told Julian Assange, who appeared by video-link: “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,” she said. (IANS)