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WikiLeaks espionage case : Julian Assange flies out of UK after plea deal with US

“After more than five years in a 2x3 metre cell, isolated 23 hours a day, Julian Assange will soon reunite with his wife Stella Assange, and their children, who have only known their father from behind bars”

Reported by:  PTC News Desk  Edited by:  Shefali Kohli -- June 25th 2024 08:59 AM
WikiLeaks espionage case : Julian Assange flies out of UK after plea deal with US

WikiLeaks espionage case : Julian Assange flies out of UK after plea deal with US

JULIAN ASSANGE IS FREE | WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange walked out of the Belmarsh maximum security prison on Monday. He was set to plead guilty this week to violating US espionage law, in a deal with the Joe Biden administration that could pave the way for him to avoid imprisonment in the United States, according to recently filed federal court documents. 

The WikiLeaks founder has reportedly consented to plead guilty to a felony charge connected to his alleged involvement in one of the largest breaches of classified US government material.


“JULIAN ASSANGE IS FREE,” WikiLeaks wrote on X.

In a long post, WikiLeaks added, “Julian Assange is free. He left Belmarsh maximum security prison on the morning of 24 June, after having spent 1901 days there. He was granted bail by the High Court in London and was released at Stansted airport during the afternoon, where he boarded a plane and departed the UK.”

“After more than five years in a 2x3 metre cell, isolated 23 hours a day, he will soon reunite with his wife Stella Assange, and their children, who have only known their father from behind bars,” reads the post o n X. 

What is US' new plea deal with Julian Assange ? 

This agreement, if approved by a federal judge, would see Assange receiving a 62-month sentence, which matches the duration he has already served in London's high-security Belmarsh prison while contesting extradition to the US. The plea deal includes crediting his time served, potentially allowing Assange to immediately return to his native Australia.

According to the US District Court in the Northern Mariana Islands, a plea hearing and sentencing have been scheduled for Wednesday morning. Prosecutors explained to the court that Assange preferred not to set foot in the continental US for his guilty plea, hence the choice of venue near Australia, where he intends to return following the court proceedings.

Justice Department prosecutors expect Julian Assange to plead guilty to charges of violating US espionage law, with sentencing to follow. Assange had been pursued by US authorities for publishing classified military documents leaked by Chelsea Manning between 2010 and 2011. The 2019 indictment included 18 counts, carrying a potential maximum sentence of 175 years, though such a sentence was unlikely. US officials accused Assange of encouraging Manning to acquire unfiltered US diplomatic cables, which endangered confidential sources, as well as Iraq war-related reports and Guantanamo Bay detainee information.

President Joe Biden hinted at a possible deal, supported by Australian officials, to allow Assange's return to Australia. However, FBI and Justice Department officials insisted on a felony guilty plea from Assange. 

The case has attracted global attention, sparking debates over press freedom, government transparency, and the legality of publishing classified information. Assange's journey, from asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy to incarceration in Belmarsh, and now a potential plea deal, has been closely watched by various stakeholders.

- With inputs from agencies

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