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Julian Assange Walks Free From Prison After Deal With US

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Washington DC: Julian Assange, Wikileaks founder has agreed to plead guilty in US court on Monday. Assange revealed military secrets in exchange for his freedom as per court documents which were released on Monday night.

As per a document filed in court in the Northern Mariana Islands, a US territory in the Pacific, Assange had been in Britain’s custody and will plead guilty to a single count of conspiracy to obtain and spread national defence and military information. On Tuesday morning (British Time) Wikileaks reported: “Julian Assange is a free man” and had left the country.

He will appear in the US territory on Wednesday morning. The prison sentence for Assange is expected to be 62 months, with credit to the five years he served in Britain as per an AFP report. This means that he can go back to his native country Australia. Assange was wanted by the US for publishing thousands of US secret documents since 2010 as head of Wikileaks.

During Assange’s trial, he became a hero to many free speech campaigners around the world and a villain to many who thought he endangered US national security and intelligence by revealing various US secrets. The US wanted Assange on trial for revealing US military secrets about wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as per an AFP report.

The 14-year court drama over Assange’s extradition would come to an end with the plea deal. A US federal grand jury indicted Julian Assange in 2019 on eighteen counts related to the release of a vast cache of national security information by WikiLeaks. According to an AFP report, the agreement was announced two weeks before Assange was due to appear in court in Britain to appeal a decision that had approved his extradition to the United States.

Since April 2019, Assange has been held at the high-security Belmarsh jail in London, United Kingdom. In addition, he was detained for seven years in Ecuador’s embassy in London to evade being extradited to Sweden, where he was accused of sexual assault but the charges were later withdrawn.

In 2007, Assange released two videos showing civilians in Iraq being murdered by gunfire from a US helicopter gunship. Two journalists from Reuters were among the victims. Assange has been charged by the US under the 1917 Espionage Act. According to an AFP report, Assange’s supporters warned that this might result in a sentence of 175 years in prison.

Two British judges in May said Assange could appeal against his extradition to the United States. The appeal was intended to answer the question of whether he would be entitled to the First Amendment’s protections of free expression as a foreign defendant in an American court. The plea agreement was not wholly surprising. There has been mounting pressure on President Joe Biden to drop the long-running case against Assange.

 

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