Julian Assange has been branded a “narcissist” by a judge as he faces both a UK prison sentence and being extradited to the US. The WikiLeaks founder is facing extradition to the US on charges of conspiring to break into a classified government computer, where he could face a maximum jail sentence of five years. He had been summoned in 2012 over an alleged rape in Sweden, where authorities are now considering reopening their investigation into those allegations. After arriving at a London police station on Thursday morning, the 47-year-old was additionally arrested on behalf of the US under an extradition warrant. Assange was taken to Westminster Magistrates’ Court and found guilty of breaching bail hours later. He faces a jail sentence of up to a year. He denied the offence, with lawyers arguing that he had a reasonable excuse and he could not expect a fair trial in the UK as its purpose was to “secure his delivery” to the US.
Judge Snow said: “His assertion that he has not had a fair hearing is laughable. And his behaviour is that of a narcissist who cannot get beyond his own selfish interests.”
Assange shouted “this is unlawful” as police officers struggled to drag him from the Ecuadorian embassy on Thursday morning, the court heard. He had tried to “barge” past the officers back to his private room when they attempted to introduce themselves.
The WikiLeaks founder, who had pleaded not guilty, now faces up to 12 months in prison in relation to the 2012 charge of failing to surrender to the court and will be later sentenced at Southwark crown court at an unspecified date. Assange will not personally give evidence in the case but his legal team will argue that he had a “reasonable excuse” for not surrendering to custody. The basis of Assange’s defence of “reasonable excuse” is that he could never expect a fair trial in the UK as its purpose was to “secure his delivery” to the US, the court heard. Police arrived at the Ecuadorian embassy in Knightsbridge at about 9.15 on Thursday morning and were met by the ambassador, the court heard. “He was eventually arrested at 10.15am. He resisted that arrest, claiming ‘this is unlawful’ and he had to be restrained.
“Officers were struggling to handcuff him. They received assistance from other officers outside and he was handcuffed saying, ‘this is unlawful, I’m not leaving’.
“He was in fact lifted into the police van outside the embassy and taken to West End Central police station.”While Assange waited for his legal team to arrive in court for the afternoon hearing, he sat in the dock reading Gore Vidal’s History of the National Security State. The bearded WikiLeaks founder, whose grey hair was tied back, also waved and gave a thumbs up to a supporter in the public gallery wearing a yellow vest.