Newspaper headlines: ‘Dishevelled’ Julian Assange faces justice


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Several papers lead with the big story of the day – the arrest of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, who has been living in Ecuador’s London embassy since 2012. He sought refuge there to avoid extradition to Sweden over a sexual assault case that has since been dropped. Assange appeared at Westminster Magistrates’ Court and was found guilty of breaching his bail. He could now be extradited to the US to face a computer hacking charge. The FT says his arrest ends “a seven-year saga that pitted global authorities against one of the most controversial transparency advocates”.

Metro Friday

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The Metro puts two contrasting photos of Assange on its front page – one from 2011, before he entered the Ecuadorian embassy, and another taken yesterday of a bearded Assange making a peace sign as he was driven away. The paper says he shouted loudly as he was “dragged” from the embassy.

The Guardian

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The Guardian is more sympathetic to Assange compared to some papers, reporting that he is facing up to five years in prison in the US if he is extradited there for the conspiracy charge. Calculating the number of days that Assange spent holed up in the embassy (2,487), the paper says he also faces up to 12 months in a British prison for the charge he was found guilty of on Thursday.

The Times Friday

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But the Times suggests that Assange could be jailed for “decades” in the US, reporting that he is expected to face “dozens more charges” if he is extradited. Espionage can carry a 20-year sentence, the paper says. Meanwhile, the paper also reports that the DUP has been holding private talks with Brexiteer MP Boris Johnson “and his Tory leadership campaign team”.

The Mail

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The Daily Mail also claims US prosecutors are reportedly set to file more charges. The paper chooses a picture of Assange in a police van, winking and making a thumbs up sign, and suggests he will soon stop smiling. The paper says that, as Assange was arrested, he shouted: “The UK has no civility”. It adds that the Ecuadorian government ended his asylum status after becoming fed up of his “discourteous” behaviour and poor personal hygiene.

The I newspaper

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The i newspaper’s front page also carries the photo of Assange winking. It says the Ecuadorian embassy invited the police round after “losing patience with their lodger”. But the paper says the arrest has ignited a political row, after Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn called on the government not to extradite Assange.

Daily Express Friday

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While most papers choose to lead with a non-Brexit story for the first time in days, the Daily Express splashes with the latest on the deadlock. The paper criticises MPs for beginning their Easter break, saying: “We want Brexit!” On Wednesday, Theresa May continued to urge MPs to back her Brexit deal, saying it was their “national duty”.

The Daily Telegraph Friday

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Also leading with Brexit, the Daily Telegraph reports that the government’s plans for a no-deal scenario have been shelved now that a delay to 31 October has been agreed. The paper says that there is “mounting pressure” from Mrs May’s own MPs, ministers and the DUP for her to name a date for her to quit.

Daily Star

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The Daily Star compares the appearance of bearded Assange to that of character Uncle Albert from comedy programme Only Fools and Horses and asks the question “Who’s nicked Uncle Albert?”. The paper’s top story, rather neatly, is about such classic TV comedies. The Star claims that, following its own campaign, the BBC is in talks to link up with Sky and Channel 4 to create the British Comedy Foundation.

Daily Mirror

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According to the Daily Mirror, the Duchess of Sussex will not be doing a traditional photocall outside the hospital when she gives birth to her baby, due later this month. The Mirror quotes a source as saying: “They don’t want any distractions”. Instead, Prince Harry and Meghan are expected to share the first picture of their newborn on their Instagram page, which broke a world record for the fastest time to reach more than one million followers.

The Sun

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Friday’s Sun also leads with a story on Meghan and Harry – but on reports that the couple have “infuriated” royal staff by banning them from using a car park “because it overlooks their new home”. A senior source at Windsor Castle told the Sun that the couple had not demanded the change. They added that the car park would not be closed completely but just let in fewer people, adding that the decision was made as a result of a review by the superintendent of the castle.

The arrest of Wikileaks co-founder Julian Assange dominates many of Friday’s newspaper front pages.

The Daily Mail leads on the removal by police yesterday of Julian Assange, from the Ecuadorian embassy in London.

Its front page has a large photo of the activist being driven away in a police van, with the headline: “That’ll wipe the smile from his face”.

The tone of relish continues inside the paper. In a four-page spread, entitled “downfall of a narcissist”, it says Assange has alienated many of those who used to support him – including perhaps crucially those who financed his expensive legal battles.

There is a picture of Assange on the front of the Guardian, making a “V for victory” sign through the window of a police van.

Like several of the other papers, it focuses on the book he was holding as he was hustled out of the embassy. “Gore Vidal: History of the National Security State” is a collection of interviews in which the author criticised US foreign policy, and corruption in the media.

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EPA

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Assange was found guilty of a British charge, but he could be extradited to the US to face a separate charge

The cartoonist in the Telegraph, Matt, pokes fun at the arrest. He depicts the Ecuadorian embassy with a blue plaque that reads: “Julian Assange lived here for what seemed like 700 years”.

In its editorial, the Daily Mirror suggests that his credibility has been shattered. It says that where he was once regarded as a hero of free speech, he’s now seen as “an unwanted guest who abused his hospitality”, and tried to hide from justice.

The Times describes the arrest as an “overdue eviction”.

Its opinion column argues that “no-one should feel sympathy, as he swaps the self-imposed captivity of a small room at the embassy for a prison cell”.

It argues that his decision to take refuge there in 2012 – to avoid facing sexual assault charges in Sweden, that were subsequently dropped – made him a fugitive from the law. And it goes on to say it’s essential he now faces justice.

Brexit delay ‘not easy choice’

Like many of the papers, the Financial Times examines the Brexit deadline extension, granted early yesterday by the EU.

The paper says the UK has been given “respite”, and points out that deciding to allow a delay “was not an easy choice for EU leaders”.

It urges politicians at Westminster not to waste the opportunity they’ve been given – but suggests that it would be a “grave mistake” for Theresa May to present an unchanged version of her deal to the Commons for a fourth vote.

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Reuters

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Some people celebrated in Khartoum after the president was ousted and arrested by the military

There is a picture on the front page of the Financial Times of Sudanese women in Khartoum celebrating the removal from power of the President, Omar al-Bashir. “Nile spring” is the headline.

The FT describes Bashir as a “wily survivor” who’d defied the odds, maintaining power by playing off one faction against another, both domestically and internationally.

One of the Guardian’s columnists, Nesrine Malik, who is from Sudan, describes how, while studying in Khartoum, she experienced the brutality of Bashir’s regime.

Security forces stormed the university campus, after a student election didn’t go the way they wanted. She describes how a fellow student was beaten by a soldier, who asked “where are the heroes?”

Ms Malik says that, decades later, his question has finally been answered – the heroes are those who took part in the recent mass protests, that led to Bashir’s downfall.

The Daily Mail reports on the jailing for manslaughter yesterday of Jack Shepherd, who fled abroad after killing a woman in a speedboat crash on the Thames. “Behind UK bars at last” is the headline.

The paper contrasts Shepherd’s behaviour – described by the judge as “cowardly and selfish” – with that of the family of his victim, Charlotte Brown.

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Shepherd was jailed for an extra six months – on top of the original six years for manslaughter – for fleeing the country

It says they stood outside the Old Bailey, after the verdict was given, “shoulder to shoulder – a vision of dignity, strength and integrity”.

Meanwhile, the Times reports on how Audrey Hepburn defied the Nazis during the Second World War – before she became a film star.

It describes how she and her family risked death by harbouring a British paratrooper in the Netherlands in 1944.

The revelations are in a new book being published this month. Under the headline “fair lady”, the paper’s leader column says that – although Hepburn was discreet in later life about the experience – she undoubtedly showed “great courage as well as independence of spirit”.

Finally, the Daily Telegraph seems unimpressed by a decision by the Co-op supermarket to start selling a gender neutral “gingerbread person”.

It reports that the move is intended to be inclusive. The paper’s leader points out that in the past, gingerbread men “have not usually shown signs of gender identity”.

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