Julian Assange Walks Free After Pleading Guilty in Exchange of Not Being Extradited to US

By Jose Resurreccion

Jun 25, 2024 12:58 AM EDT

Julian Assange Walks Free After Pleading Guilty in Exchange of Not Being Extradited to US
Supporters of Julian Assange gather as they wait for the outcome of Assange's appeal against extradition to the U.S. outside the Royal Courts of Justice on May 20, 2024 in London, England.
(Photo : Peter Nicholls/Getty Images)

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange was due to plead guilty this week for violating the United States Espionage Act, a part of a deal that would end his imprisonment in the United Kingdom and allow him to return to his native Australia after over a decade of legal battles.

CBS and the BBC reported that the 52-year-old would not spend any time in US custody and would receive credit for time spent in a British prison.

Reuters also quoted court filings from the US District Court for the Northern Mariana Islands, saying that Assange agreed to plead guilty to a single count of conspiring to obtain and disclose classified US national defense documents.

Assange was due to be sentenced to 62 months already solved at a hearing on the island of Saipan scheduled for 09:00 local time Wednesday, June 26 (23:00 UTC Tuesday, June 25).

In a statement, Assange's representatives claimed that the development was "the result of a global campaign" that several of Assange's supporters "from across the political spectrum" had promoted.

It remains to be seen how and why the document was filed in a US-controlled island territory in the Pacific.

FlightRadar24 data showed that Assange departed London Stansted Airport Monday afternoon (June 24) on a VistaJet plane and was expected to land in Bangkok at around 12:30 local time Tuesday (05:30 UTC).

Assange's spokesperson declined to comment on his flight plans upon landing in Thailand, but it is understood that he would board another plane bound for Australia.

READ NEXT: WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange's Case Under Consideration If Could Be Halted, Says US President Joe Biden

Celebrations from Assange's Supporters

In celebration of Assange's liberation from a British prison, his wife, Stella, posted a video on X, formerly Twitter, expressing gratitude to those who supported her husband's cause.

Independent US presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. said he was "overjoyed" because a "generational hero" was freed. He also expressed disgust that Assange had to plead guilty because of his heart problems and the possibility that he would have died in prison.

It could be recalled that RFK Jr. intended to pardon Assange should he win the race to the White House.

Meanwhile, the Australian government, headed by Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, has been pressuring for Assange's release but declined to comment on the legal proceedings.

Australian broadcaster ABC quoted a government spokesperson saying that the Albanese government deemed it too early to comment on Assange's release as legal proceedings remain ongoing. However, the representative reiterated that Albanese was adamant that Assange had been detained for too long.

The US government has accused Assange of endangering lives due to Wikileaks files that disclosed information about Washington's military involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan.

NBC added that Assange allegedly conspired with Chelsea Manning, a former military intelligence analyst, to use the website to disclose thousands of activity reports about the two military operations, as well as State Department cables and assessment briefs of detainees at Guantanamo Bay.

READ MORE: X CEO Linda Yaccarino Shakes Up Her Executive Team Amid Elon Musk's Pressure on Costs: Report

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