Further to another question asked on these boards:

Julian Assange was sentenced to 50 weeks for jumping bail on 1 May 2019
Presumably, his jail term began immediately upon sentencing, in which case he finished serving his sentence 68+ weeks ago.

He was held for several months pending extradition hearings, which itself does not make complete sense: presumably, the extradition hearings should have been conducted while he was serving the actual sentence.

Why is he still being held in Belmarsh?

I understand that after a very pro-extradition1 judge, overseen by one with serious conflicts2, struck down the American request for extradition, the Americans are appealing.

Larger question However, my understanding is that if a judge finds someone guilty then they go to jail right away. And they have to file appeals while serving their sentence. Is the converse not true, i.e. if the judge finds someone not guilty and the government appeals, then doesn't the person contest the appeal as a free person?

1 Of her 24 previous extradition hearings, Vanessa Baraitser ordered extradition in 23.
2 Vanessa Baraitser is overseen by Emma Arbuthnot who has refused to formally recuse herself despite family connections to people cited for criminal activities in documents published by WikiLeaks.

  • 1
    People are released on bail if they are considered trustworthy (i.e. they will return for the final verdict). This is different from being ' free'. In this case the person is not considered trustworthy since, as your 2nd paragraph states, since they jumped bail in the past. Commented Aug 7, 2021 at 11:37
  • @MarkJohnson totally agree - Assange is the very definition of a flight risk, even screwing over his last lot of bail guarantors so even a large bail offering probably wouldnt ever be accepted by a court.
    – user28517
    Commented Aug 7, 2021 at 21:12
  • 1
    @MarkJohnson I am not talking about bail. I am talking about acquittal. If you have a criminal proceeding against you, and the judge acquits you, don't you get to go home, even if the government is appealing?
    – OC2PS
    Commented Aug 11, 2021 at 21:15
  • I think you are mixing up criminal and extradition proceedings. Upon appeal the person must nevertheless be discharged. But an appeal against that discharge can be made. If the judge considers that appeal justified, then the order of discharge can be quashed. At that point the question of a possible bail arises. Commented Aug 12, 2021 at 3:19

2 Answers 2


There are two reasons for jail:

  • Applying the sentence

  • Denying the accused the opportunity of fleeing, destroying evidence or doing the same felonies again.

The last part is always a difficult one, as the accused has still not received a veredict but has his rights severely curtailed. In general it is intended as a last ditch measure, and the circumstances of the case must be considered.

In this case, after Assange spent several years holed in at Ecuador's embassy in the UK, and given that he did not surrender himself voluntarily, it is not that unreasonable to believe that he would try again to flee, as the matter is not still settled and he is still at risk of being extradited.

I do not know about England, but in some countries (e.g. Spain) if you are kept in preventive custody but later found to be innocent you are automatically entitled to an indemnity.

Also, for the larger question, that is not true either at least in some countries. After a guilty veredict a judge may postpone incarceration while appeals are reviewed (again considering things like flight risks). Of course, if you have condemned someone who has not been given bail due to being considered too risky, they remain in jail during the process.

Also Presumably, his jail term began immediately upon sentencing. In many jurisdictions, the time served before the sentence is counted towards the sentence. If you spent 4 weeks in jail before the sentence, you have already passed 4 weeks of your sentence.

If the time already spent is close to the time you would have been sentenced, the sentence specifies that you are condemned "to time served" and released immediately.


Why is Julian Assange in jail?

The judge has remanded him in custody under one of the provisions in the Extradition Act 2003, possibly under section 6(5B) or section 8.

The US government's request for Mr Assange's extradition was denied on 4 January 2021 who (as a category 2 country) then appealed that decision to the High Court under section 105 of the Extradition Act 2003.

The lower courts rarely, if ever, publish a verbatim report on bail application hearings but according to this news report Judge Vanessa Baraitser said at the time:

[T]here are substantial grounds for believing that if Mr. Assange is released today he would fail to surrender to court and face the appeal proceedings.

Therefore, it seems that the Judge exercised her powers under section 107(2):

The judge must remand the person in custody or on bail while the appeal is pending.

According to news reports the High Court has granted permission to appeal, with the full hearing scheduled for 27 and 28 October 2021 when the provisions under section 106 will be triggered:

(1) On an appeal under section 105 the High Court may—

  • (a) allow the appeal;

  • (b) direct the judge to decide the relevant question again;

  • (c) dismiss the appeal.


(9) If the court—

  • (a) allows the appeal, or

  • (b) makes a direction under subsection (1)(b),

it must remand the person in custody or on bail.

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