WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange Accepts Plea Deal with U.S.

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TL/DR –

Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, has agreed to plead guilty to one felony count of illegally obtaining and disclosing national security material in exchange for his release from a British prison. The plea deal ends a long standoff with the U.S. and Assange is expected to be sentenced to around five years, equal to the time he has already served. Following the proceedings, Assange is expected to return to Australia, his native country.


WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange to Plead Guilty in Exchange for Release

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange agreed on Monday to plead guilty to a single felony count related to illegally obtaining and disclosing national security material, securing his release from a UK prison. Mr. Assange, 52, will appear before a judge in Saipan, Northern Mariana Islands, a U.S. commonwealth closer to his native Australia than the U.S. mainland.

Mr. Assange is expected to serve a sentence equivalent to his time already served in Britain, about five years, according to an undisclosed law enforcement official. Post proceedings, Assange is expected to travel back to Australia.

Upon the announcement, Stella Assange, Assange’s wife, posted a video of her husband signing paperwork and boarding a plane. Assange’s team is currently fundraising for travel costs through social media appeals.

The Australian Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese, expressed his support for Assange’s case, stating, “We want him brought home to Australia.”

In 2019, Assange was indicted on 18 counts related to WikiLeaks’ dissemination of national security documents. These included materials sent by Chelsea Manning, a former U.S. Army intelligence analyst. If convicted, Assange could have faced up to 170 years in prison.

Assange’s supporters argue his actions were in the public interest and deserved First Amendment protections. David Greene from the Electronic Frontier Foundation said, “The United States has now, for the first time in the Espionage Act’s history, obtained a conviction for basic journalistic acts.”

U.S. officials, however, argued that Assange’s actions endangered national security. His actions, they claimed, put service members and Iraqis working with the military at risk.

While challenging the order for his removal, Assange won an appeal against the extradition order last month. Stella Assange urged the Biden administration to abandon this “shameful prosecution”.

Assange, who suffered a minor stroke in 2021 and cited health issues throughout his court proceedings, has been rarely seen in public. Stella Assange stated in a video posted outside Belmarsh Prison that she is confident this period of their lives has come to an end.

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