Julian Assange Freed Following Guilty Plea To Single US Espionage Charge, Boards Flight To Australia (UPDATED)


Editor's Note: This article has been updated with additional details.

Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, has been freed from the Belmarsh maximum security prison in the UK and he is now on his way to Australia.

What Happened: Assange, 52, is set to admit to a single criminal charge of conspiring to obtain and disclose classified U.S. national defense documents, reported Reuters. Wikileaks says that while the deal has not been formally finalized yet, Assange is on his way to Australia.

“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,” said Wikileaks in a post on X, formerly Twitter.

The U.S. District Court for the Northern Mariana Islands has received the filings confirming Assange’s intention to plead guilty. He is expected to be sentenced to 62 months, equivalent to the time already served. The sentencing will take place on Wednesday at 9 a.m. local time on the island of Saipan.

The charges against Assange stem from WikiLeaks’ release of classified U.S. military documents in 2010, including diplomatic cables and battlefield accounts. Chelsea Manning, a former U.S. military intelligence analyst, leaked these documents. The indictment occurred during the administration of former President Donald Trump.

Assange’s arrest and subsequent legal battles have sparked widespread outrage among his global supporters, who argue that as the publisher of WikiLeaks, he should not be subject to charges typically used against federal government employees who steal or leak information.

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Why It Matters: Assange’s decision to plead guilty comes after a long legal battle, including a controversial extradition approval by the UK in 2022. The UK Home Secretary Priti Patel had given the green light for Assange’s extradition to the U.S. to face espionage charges.

Previously in 2012, Assange had claimed asylum at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London from where he was arrested and moved to Belmarsh Prison, a facility in the Southeast of the city that contains a High Security Unit.

Image by Cancillería del Ecuador via Flickr

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This story was generated using Benzinga Neuro and edited by Shivdeep Dhaliwal

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Posted In: NewsPoliticsGeneralAustraliaBiden AdministrationJulian AssageShivdeep DhaliwalUnited KingdomWikiLeaks
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