Monday April 15, 2019
The Justice Department said Thursday that it was charging Julian Assange with one felony count of conspiring to hack into a computer. In the greater scheme of things, that’s a nonsensical charge. There are probably 10,000 fat, lonely guys, living in their parents’ basements who the government could charge with that crime on any given day.
Assange’s attorneys in the UK say the extradition process might last five years because it will likely end up in the European Court of Justice. If true, conceivably Assange could be detained for five years awaiting extradition, or roughly the same amount of time he might be sentenced to if convicted on the computer hacking charge.
Justice Department policy defines time in detention under almost any circumstance as time served. So if there ever were a trial in the US for the computer hacking charge it would likely be nothing more than a show trial.
Additional charges after the application for extradition has been filed are unlikely, due to limitations in extradition treaties requiring full disclosure of all charges prior to an extradition being considered. But that’s not the issue here.