WikiLeaks Says Julian Assange Is 'free' After US Plea Deal

WikiLeaks says Julian Assange is 'free' after US plea deal

Bangkok, (APP - UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 25th Jun, 2024) Julian Assange has been released from prison and left Britain, WikiLeaks said, as he reached a landmark plea deal with US authorities that brought an end to his years-long legal drama.

"Julian Assange is free," WikiLeaks wrote on X of its founder, who had been detained in Britain for five years as he fought extradition to the United States which sought to prosecute him for revealing military secrets.

He has agreed to plead guilty to a single count of conspiracy to obtain and disseminate national defence information, according to a document filed in court in the Northern Mariana Islands in the Pacific.

A charter plane flew Assange, 52, from London to Bangkok, where it had been scheduled to stop for refuelling.

AFP journalists saw it touch down at Bangkok's Don Mueang airport at around 12:30 pm (0530 GMT).

From there it is scheduled to fly to Saipan, capital of the US territory where Assange will appear in court on Wednesday morning.

Assange is expected to be sentenced to five years and two months in prison, with credit for the same amount of time spent behind bars in Britain.

This means he could return to his native Australia, where the government said his case had "dragged on for too long" and there was "nothing to be gained by his continued incarceration."

The publisher was wanted by Washington for publishing hundreds of thousands of secret US documents from 2010 as head of the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks.

Since then Assange became a hero to free speech campaigners and a villain to those who thought he endangered US security and intelligence sources.

US authorities wanted to put Assange on trial for divulging military secrets about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Assange was indicted by a US Federal grand jury in 2019 on 18 counts stemming from WikiLeaks' publication of a trove of national security documents.

Former vice president Mike Pence slammed the plea deal on X as a "miscarriage of justice" that "dishonors the service and sacrifice of the men and women of our Armed Forces."