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WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange walks free from UK jail after US plea deal

Under the terms of the plea agreement, Assange will not spend any time in US custody and will receive credit for the time he has already served in the UK. 
09:44 AM Jun 25, 2024 IST | SURINDER SINGH OBEROI
wikileaks founder julian assange walks free from uk jail after us plea deal
WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange Leaves UK After US Plea Deal; Will Plead Guilty and Be Set Free Image courtesy: Flickr
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New Delhi, June 25: Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, has left the UK following a plea deal with the US that will see him plead guilty to criminal charges and be set free. Assange was charged with conspiracy to obtain and disclose national defence information. For the past five years, he has been incarcerated in a British prison, where he was fighting extradition to the US.

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Under the terms of the plea agreement, Assange will not spend any time in US custody and will receive credit for the time he has already served in the UK.

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According to court documents, Assange is scheduled to appear in a US courtroom in the Northern Mariana Islands in the Pacific on Wednesday to enter his guilty plea, which will resolve his case, media reported.

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He is expected to be sentenced to 62 months in prison. However, with credit for the time he has spent in custody in Britain, he is not expected to serve any additional time. The US Department of Justice anticipates that Assange will return to his native Australia once the plea deal is finalized.

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BBC quoting a spokesperson for Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese confirmed the proceedings, stating, "We are aware Australian citizen Mr Julian Assange has legal proceedings scheduled in the United States. The Australian Government continues to provide consular assistance to Mr Assange. Prime Minister 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."

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Julian Assange’s wife, Stella, expressed her gratitude to his supporters, saying, "Words cannot express our immense gratitude to YOU- yes YOU, who have all mobilised for years and years to make this come true. THANK YOU. THANK YOU. THANK YOU," in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter.

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Stella, a South African-born lawyer, has been in a relationship with Assange since 2015. The couple first met in 2011 when she joined his legal team. They have two children, whom Stella has been raising on her own. The pair married in 2022 while Assange was still being held in Belmarsh prison.

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In 2010, WikiLeaks released nearly half a million documents related to the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, drawing criticism from the Obama administration for threatening national security. The site also published an edited video from a U.S. attack helicopter showing the 2007 killing of a dozen people, including two Reuters employees.

Later that year, WikiLeaks released around 250,000 classified diplomatic cables. In 2012, after his extradition appeal was denied, Julian Assange sought asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, fearing extradition to the U.S.

 Assange remained in the Ecuadorian embassy until 2019 when Ecuador withdrew asylum, leading to his arrest by British police.

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