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Assange pleads not guilty to failing to surrender to bail

Assange pleads not guilty to failing to surrender to bail
Julian Assange has pleaded not guilty to failing to surrender to bail, in a court appearance following his arrest. The WikiLeaks founder was arrested by British police for the bail breach, and following a US extradition request.

Assange was charged with failing to surrender to custody in 2012, when he faced extradition to Sweden as part of a sexual assault investigation. Swedish authorities dropped the charges, but Assange was still arrested for breaching the conditions of his original bail.

Assange had remained under de-facto house arrest in the Ecuadorian embassy since, fearing extradition to the United States. A US indictment alleges that Assange engaged in “conspiracy” with US Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning in 2010, for his role in publishing a tranche of classified US military documents, some detailing alleged war crimes.

Although a secret warrant for his extradition was revealed last year, the US Justice Department officially charged Assange with conspiracy on Thursday. The WikiLeaks head is charged with “conspiracy to commit computer intrusion for agreeing to break a password to a classified U.S. government computer.”

Also on rt.com Assange charged with helping Manning crack password to leak classified US docs – DOJ statement

Washington’s extradition request was central to Assange’s arrest, British Prime Minister Theresa May confirmed on Thursday. May welcomed Assange’s capture, declaring “no one is above the law.”

Emerging from the Embassy clutching a copy of Gore Vidal’s ‘The History of the National Security State,’ a frail and unkempt Assange nevertheless flashed reporters a thumbs-up as he was driven to Westminster Magistrates Court in a police van.

Should Assange be extradited to the US, he faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison. However, that sentence could increase significantly should additional charges of espionage be tacked on.

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