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Julian Assange Released from UK Prison, Agrees to Plead Guilty in US Espionage Case

Julian Assange Released from UK Prison, Agrees to Plead Guilty in US Espionage Case

Jun 25, 2024

Julian Assange Released from UK Prison, Agrees to Plead Guilty in US Espionage Case

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been released from Belmarsh maximum security prison in the UK after over five years of incarceration. His departure from the prison was confirmed on the morning of June 24, 2024, as reported by WikiLeaks via social media. Assange was granted bail by the High Court in London and subsequently left the United Kingdom from Stansted Airport, heading to the United States.

The release marks a significant development in Assange's protracted legal battle, which has garnered international attention and sparked debates on press freedom and the right to information. According to WikiLeaks, Assange's freedom stems from a global campaign that involved grassroots organizers, press freedom advocates, lawmakers, and international entities such as the United Nations. Details of the negotiations with the US Department of Justice that led to his release are yet to be finalized.

Assange's wife, Stella Assange, expressed mixed feelings of elation and concern to Reuters. She indicated that the family would seek a pardon for Assange, who has agreed to plead guilty to a single count of conspiring to obtain and disclose classified US national defense documents. The plea agreement is expected to result in Assange being sentenced to 62 months of time served, with a court hearing scheduled in Saipan in the Northern Mariana Islands. Following the hearing, Assange is anticipated to return home to Australia.

Stella Assange also mentioned the substantial costs associated with the journey from London to Saipan and then to Australia, estimated at around half a million US dollars. She emphasized the gravity of the guilty plea under the Espionage Act for journalists worldwide.

The plea deal requires approval from a federal judge, with Assange's court appearance in Saipan slated for 9 am on Wednesday (2300 GMT on Tuesday). The expectation is that once the judge signs off on the agreement, Assange will be a free man and will shortly make his way to Australia.

The events surrounding Assange's release are the culmination of a saga that saw him spend seven years in asylum at the Ecuadorian embassy in London to avoid extradition, followed by over five years in a British prison.

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