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WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange walks free after pleading guilty to espionage

ENGLISH 26.06.2024 - 12:08, Güncelleme: 26.06.2024 - 12:08
 

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange walks free after pleading guilty to espionage

Assange pleads guilty to felony charge of violating Espionage Act during appearance at courthouse in US territory of Saipan
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange pleaded guilty to a felony charge, ending a years-long stalemate with the US, the Justice Department said Tuesday. Accused of obtaining and publishing classified military and diplomatic documents in 2010, Assange appeared in a courtroom on the US Pacific island territory of Saipan in the Mariana Islands, a US commonwealth in the Western Pacific Ocean near his native Australia. "At today’s proceeding, Assange admitted to his role in the conspiracy to violate the Espionage Act and received a court-imposed 62-month time-served sentence, reflecting the time he served in a UK prison as a result of the US charges," said the department in a statement. Following the imposition of the sentence, Assange walked free after a years-long legal battle and departed for Australia. He was detained in the UK based on the US charges for the last 62 months while he contested extradition. "Pursuant to the plea agreement, Assange is prohibited from returning to the United States without permission," said the statement. According to the Washington Post, the judge questioned the rationale behind filing the case in Saipan. In response, US attorney Matthew McKenzie explained that the island's proximity to Assange's home country of Australia would facilitate his return home "shortly after this proceeding." The Post also reported that Assange defended himself in court by describing himself as a journalist who he said should be protected by the First Amendment. Meanwhile, Assange is crowdfunding the cost of his repatriation to Australia. A campaign was launched to pay the cost of the flights to his country. "Julian Assange has embarked on flight VJT199 to Saipan. If all goes well, it will bring him to freedom in Australia. But the flight comes at an enormous cost: Julian will owe USD 520,000, which he is obligated to pay back to the Australian government for the charter flight to Saipan and onward to Australia," said the campaign. So far, £263,395 ($334,142) has been raised. He is expected to land in Canberra later in the day. Assange was released Monday from the Belmarsh maximum security prison following bail by the High Court in London before boarding a flight at Stansted Airport at 5 p.m. local time. The plane carrying Assange landed Tuesday at Don Mueang International Airport in the Thai capital Bangkok to refuel before heading to Saipan. Assange rose to fame in the 2010s for leaking classified US documents on the internet, gaining him international accolades and detractors when he exposed sensitive American diplomatic correspondence and military records, including a video of a 2007 US airstrike in Baghdad that killed several people, including two Reuters journalists. Assange has doggedly opposed extradition to the US and spent seven years in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London in a bid to prevent the handover. He was ejected from the diplomatic compound in 2019 and has spent the last five years in a British prison as he fought an extradition order to the US.
Assange pleads guilty to felony charge of violating Espionage Act during appearance at courthouse in US territory of Saipan

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange pleaded guilty to a felony charge, ending a years-long stalemate with the US, the Justice Department said Tuesday.

Accused of obtaining and publishing classified military and diplomatic documents in 2010, Assange appeared in a courtroom on the US Pacific island territory of Saipan in the Mariana Islands, a US commonwealth in the Western Pacific Ocean near his native Australia.

"At today’s proceeding, Assange admitted to his role in the conspiracy to violate the Espionage Act and received a court-imposed 62-month time-served sentence, reflecting the time he served in a UK prison as a result of the US charges," said the department in a statement.

Following the imposition of the sentence, Assange walked free after a years-long legal battle and departed for Australia. He was detained in the UK based on the US charges for the last 62 months while he contested extradition.

"Pursuant to the plea agreement, Assange is prohibited from returning to the United States without permission," said the statement.

According to the Washington Post, the judge questioned the rationale behind filing the case in Saipan. In response, US attorney Matthew McKenzie explained that the island's proximity to Assange's home country of Australia would facilitate his return home "shortly after this proceeding."

The Post also reported that Assange defended himself in court by describing himself as a journalist who he said should be protected by the First Amendment.

Meanwhile, Assange is crowdfunding the cost of his repatriation to Australia.

A campaign was launched to pay the cost of the flights to his country.

" Julian Assange has embarked on flight VJT199 to Saipan. If all goes well, it will bring him to freedom in Australia. But the flight comes at an enormous cost: Julian will owe USD 520,000, which he is obligated to pay back to the Australian government for the charter flight to Saipan and onward to Australia," said the campaign.

So far, £263,395 ($334,142) has been raised. He is expected to land in Canberra later in the day.

Assange was released Monday from the Belmarsh maximum security prison following bail by the High Court in London before boarding a flight at Stansted Airport at 5 p.m. local time.

The plane carrying Assange landed Tuesday at Don Mueang International Airport in the Thai capital Bangkok to refuel before heading to Saipan.

Assange rose to fame in the 2010s for leaking classified US documents on the internet, gaining him international accolades and detractors when he exposed sensitive American diplomatic correspondence and military records, including a video of a 2007 US airstrike in Baghdad that killed several people, including two Reuters journalists.

Assange has doggedly opposed extradition to the US and spent seven years in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London in a bid to prevent the handover.

He was ejected from the diplomatic compound in 2019 and has spent the last five years in a British prison as he fought an extradition order to the US.

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