Assange had pleaded not guilty to the charge, which stems from the time he sought refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in 2012, avoiding extradition to Sweden for a sexual assault investigation. Although Swedish authorities dropped the charge in 2017, Assange remained wanted by Britain for breaching the terms of his original bail.
The WikiLeaks chief faces 12 months in prison for failing to surrender, and will be sentenced via video link on May 2.
Earlier in the day, Assange has been dragged out of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London where he has spent the last seven years. That’s after Ecuador’s president Moreno withdrew asylum.
That’s only a day after WikiLeaks Editor-in-Chief Kristinn Hrafnsson claimed that an extensive spying operation was conducted against Assange in the Ecuadorian Embassy. During an explosive media conference, Hrafnsson alleged that the operation was designed to get Assange extradited.
Separate from the British charge, Assange is also wanted for extradition by the United States. Although Washington quietly requested his extradition in 2016, the US Justice Department announced conspiracy charges against Assange on Thursday, stemming from his role in publishing classified military documents leaked by US Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning in 2010.
Assange faces a “federal charge of conspiracy to commit computer intrusion for agreeing to break a password to a classified U.S. government computer,” according to the Justice Department. Rather than actually hacking into government networks himself, Assange is merely accused of encouraging Manning to do so.
His alleged crimes fall under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, rather than the Espionage Act. However, activists have warned that the US government may attempt to tack on additional charges to punish Assange.
The document haul leaked by Manning in 2010 was one of the largest compromises of classified information in US history, and included video footage of alleged US war crimes.