Monday, July 15, 2024

Julian Assange, Wikileaks founder, to plead guilty in agreement with US and come back to Australia – Reported by The Mercury News

Julian Assange to Plead Guilty to Felony Charge in Deal with U.S. Justice Department

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has reached a plea deal with the U.S. Justice Department that will result in his release from prison after pleading guilty to a felony charge. This agreement comes after years of legal battles and international intrigue surrounding Assange’s publication of classified documents on his secret-sharing website.

Assange is set to plead guilty to an Espionage Act charge of conspiring to unlawfully obtain and disseminate classified national defense information. The deal includes a sentence of five years, which accounts for the time he has already spent in a high-security British prison while fighting extradition to the U.S.

The plea agreement marks a swift resolution to a complex case that has drawn both support and criticism. Assange, hailed as a hero by some for exposing military wrongdoing in Iraq and Afghanistan, has also faced backlash for rape allegations, which he denies.

The U.S. Justice Department’s case against Assange accused him of assisting U.S. Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning in stealing diplomatic cables and military files, which were later published on WikiLeaks. While some defended Assange as a journalist exposing government misconduct, prosecutors argued that his actions jeopardized national security.

The decision to reach a plea deal comes months after President Joe Biden considered dropping the U.S. push to prosecute Assange at the request of Australia. Manning, who was sentenced to 35 years in prison for leaking classified documents to WikiLeaks, had her sentence commuted by President Barack Obama in 2017.

Assange’s legal battles have taken a toll on his health and well-being, with over a decade of legal challenges and years spent inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London. He will soon return to Australia after his plea and sentencing, avoiding further time behind bars.

This development signifies a significant chapter in the long-running saga of Julian Assange, whose actions as a publisher have sparked debates on press freedom, national security, and government transparency.

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