Wikileaks Founder Freed in a Deal With The US

Wikileaks Founder Freed in a Deal With The US

After entering a guilty plea to a single charge of breaking American espionage law, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was released from prison in the United Kingdom and is scheduled to return home to Australia.

According to court documents, Assange was accused of conspiring to collect and reveal material related to national security through criminal information, which usually indicates a plea agreement. Assange will enter a guilty plea in court on Wednesday at 9 a.m. local time (7 p.m. ET on Tuesday), according to a letter from Justice Department official Matthew McKenzie to U.S. District Judge Ramona Manglona of the Northern Mariana Islands District. The Justice Department anticipates that Assange will depart for his native Australia following the proceedings.

The agreement is anticipated to effectively end the United States’ protracted legal battle against Assange for publishing secret military and diplomatic documents that the former soldier Chelsea Manning leaked in 2010, some of which appeared to demonstrate potential war crimes by American forces in Iraq.

“On June 24, in the morning, he departed Belmarsh Maximum Security Prison, having been incarcerated there for 1901 days. After being granted bail by the London High Court, he was freed in the afternoon and boarded a plane to leave the United Kingdom.

Assange was seen signing a paperwork before boarding a private jet in a video that Wikileaks put on X. He was wearing pants and a blue shirt.

The Wikileaks statement also mentioned the hearing in Saipan and said he would be heading back to Australia after it.

Although Wikileaks released information on other nations, it was the US, under the previous US President Donald Trump’s administration, who chose to accuse Julian with 17 charges of violating the Espionage Act in 2019.

He was accused by US attorneys of plotting with former army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning, who was sentenced to seven years in jail after disclosing documents to WikiLeaks. In 2017, US President Barack Obama commuted her sentence, resulting in her release.

Prior to that, Assange was detained for seven years inside Ecuador’s embassy in London. He left the country in 2011 to avoid facing possible allegations of sexual assault in Sweden. Ecuador’s government granted Assange shelter, allowing him to reside in the embassy building with British police keeping a constant eye on him outside.

However, Assange was detained by British police on the steps of the embassy after the Ecuadorian government forced him to leave in 2019. By that time, the sexual assault prosecution had been withdrawn by Swedish authorities, but Assange was found guilty of violating his bail terms and given a 50-week prison sentence by a U.K. court. He served his sentence a long time ago, but he has stayed in Belmarsh ever since.

U.S. prosecutors quickly made public a sealed indictment accusing Assange of plotting to breach a Pentagon computer network after his arrest in London, and they initiated extradition proceedings. A few weeks later, the Trump administration’s Justice Department unveiled a second superseding indictment accusing Assange of 17 more counts of breaking the Espionage Act.

Press freedom organizations and major U.S. media companies strongly objected to the decision to prosecute Assange under the Espionage Act, fearing that it would set a precedent that would penalize any media outlet that published classified material. Prominent news outlets, such as the New York Times, had recommended the Biden administration to relinquish the lawsuit.

For over ten years, Assange has fought extradition: first, in relation to a Swedish prosecution involving sexual offenses, and subsequently, in relation to the American case against him. He requested confirmation that he would be able to rely on the First Amendment in a U.S. trial, and in March the High Court in London granted him permission for a comprehensive hearing on his appeal. He might receive a thorough hearing on whether he would face discrimination in the United States due to his foreign nationality, according to two High Court judges in May. The dates of the hearing on Assange’s free speech rights were set for July 9–10.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button