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WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange Free After Years Long Battle

by Violet Dawson
0 comment

Assange’s wife Stella was scheduled to meet him again; she had declared on X that “Julian is free!”, while also congratulating Assange’s supporters.

WikiLeaks, the organisation he founded, said on social media that Julian Assange had been freed from British prison. The footage showed Assange boarding a flight that left the UK on Monday night at London’s Stansted Airport.

The news that Assange was going to enter a guilty plea to breaking US espionage law this week, which would have allowed him to return to his home country of Australia, broke just after it was announced that he was free.

According to records in the US district court for the Northern Mariana Islands, US prosecutors stated in court documents that Assange, 52, has consented to enter a guilty plea to a single criminal count of plotting to obtain and publish sensitive US national defence documents.

At a court on the Northern Mariana Islands’ island of Saipan, Assange is scheduled to be sentenced on Wednesday at 9 a.m. local time (11 p.m. GMT on Tuesday). A court must approve the arrangement, but he will probably get credit for the five years he has already served and won’t be facing any further time behind bars.

He was sent to Saipan due to its “proximity to the defendant’s country of citizenship,” according to a senior justice department official who wrote a letter to a federal judge in the district court for the Northern Mariana Islands. The person also stated that Assange was anticipated to depart for Australia following the conclusion of the sentencing session.

After spending 1901 days in imprisonment at Belmarsh prison, Assange was freed on Monday morning, according to WikiLeaks on X. According to the organisation, he was “isolated in a 2×3 meter cell, 23 hours a day” during that time.

Assange’s wife Stella was scheduled to meet him again; she had declared on X that “Julian is free!”, while also congratulating Assange’s supporters.

Large sections of diplomatic cables and hundreds of thousands of classified US military documents on Washington’s wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were leaked by WikiLeaks in 2010, one of the worst security breaches in US military history.

The plea agreement was neither confirmed nor denied by an Australian government spokesman, who also stated that Canberra was “aware” of the court cases. Prime Minister [Anthony] Albanese has been clear – Mr. Assange’s case has dragged on for too long and there is nothing to be gained by his continued incarceration,” the spokesperson said.

Christine, Assange’s mother, expressed her gratitude that her son’s experience was finally coming to an end in response to the developments.

The plea deal was reached months after US President Joe Biden indicated he was thinking about Australia’s request to end the US prosecution of Julian Assange.

Chelsea Manning, a former US military intelligence analyst who was also charged under the Espionage Act, was the source of the secret US documents that WikiLeaks released in large quantities during the administration of former US President Donald Trump. This led to Assange’s indictment at the time.

A lot of people who support press freedom have claimed that putting Assange under criminal prosecution would endanger free expression.

The US government detailed the specifics of the conspiracy charge – which forms the basis of the plea agreement – in a court document submitted to the US district court for the Northern Mariana Islands on Wednesday before the defendant’s sentencing. In order to “receive and obtain documents, writing, and notes connected with the national defence… up to the SECRET level,” Assange is accused of “knowingly and unlawfully” working with US Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning.

There were many comments of satisfaction that Assange’s years-long detention appeared to be coming to an end as word of the plea agreement spread on Monday night. However, there were also worries that investigative and national security journalism may suffer grave and protracted consequences in the event of a conviction, even on a single count.

The worst-case scenario of a vigorous prosecution was avoided, according to Jameel Jaffer, executive director of Columbia University’s Knight First Amendment Institute, which protects press freedom. This was made possible by the plea agreement. “However, this agreement assumes that Assange will have spent five years in prison for actions that reporters take on a daily basis.”

A long shadow might be put over the most significant forms of journalism, not only in this country but all around the world, Jaffer cautioned.

The agreement was criticized by former US Vice President Mike Pence, who called it a “miscarriage of justice.”

He wrote on X, saying that no one who jeopardises the safety of the US military or the country’s national security should be able to plead their way out of jail, at all times.

2010 saw Assange’s initial detention in Britain according to a European arrest order following the announcement by Swedish authorities that they intended to question him on subsequently withdrawn accusations of sex crimes.

In order to avoid being extradited to Sweden, he ran away and spent seven years hiding out in Ecuador’s embassy.

In 2019, he was taken from the embassy and imprisoned for failing to appear for bail. Since then, he has been detained in London’s Belmarsh maximum security prison, where he is battling extradition to the United States.

Assange wed Stella in Belmarsh and the two of them had two kids while he worked at the Ecuadorian embassy.

Following his conviction for breaching the Espionage Act and other offences related to his disclosure of classified government and military information to WikiLeaks, Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison. After spending nearly seven years in prison, she was able to be released in 2017 when President Barack Obama reduced her sentence.

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