WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange Walks Free From Prison As He Reaches Plea Deal With US | World News

In an agreement that would end his  in imprisonment in Britain and enable him to return to Australia, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is scheduled to enter a guilty plea this week to violating US espionage law. This will put an end to a long legal court battle for Assange. According to records filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern Mariana Islands, Assange, 52, has agreeed to enter a guilty plea to a single criminal count of conspiring to obtain and publish sensitive U.S. national defence materials. 

Many believed that he acted as a journalist to expose wrongdoing by the United States military. Investigators, on the other hand, have repeatedly stated that his actions violated laws designed to protect sensitive information and jeopardised the country’s national security.

The agreement ensures that Assange will admit guilt while also sparing him from further prison time. He had spent years hiding out in the Ecuadorian embassy in London after Swedish authorities wanted to arrest him on rape charges before being imprisoned in the United Kingdom.

Prosecutors have agreed to a sentence equal to the five years Assange has already spent in a high-security British prison fighting extradition to the United States to face charges, a process that has taken place over several hearings in London.

He is expected to return to Australia after his plea and sentencing, which is scheduled for Wednesday morning, local time in Saipan, the largest island in the Mariana Islands. The hearing is taking place there because of Assange’s opposition to traveling to the continental U.S. and the court’s proximity to Australia.

Who Is Julia Assange? Timeline Of Wikileaks Case

Assange has been heralded by many around the world as a hero who brought to light military wrongdoing in Iraq and Afghanistan. Among the files published by WikiLeaks was a video of a 2007 Apache helicopter attack by American forces in Baghdad that killed 11 people, including two Reuters journalists. But his reputation was also tarnished by rape allegations, which he has denied.

In 2010, Wikileaks published hundreds of thousands of classified US military documents on Washington’s wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the greatest security breach in US military history, as well as swaths of diplomatic cables.

During former President Donald Trump’s administration, Assange was indicted for WikiLeaks’ mass publication of classified US papers hacked by Chelsea Manning, a former US military intelligence analyst who was also tried under the Espionage Act.

The collection of over 700,000 papers included diplomatic cables and battlefield testimonies, such as a 2007 video of a US Apache helicopter firing on suspected insurgents in Iraq, killing a dozen people, including two Reuters reporters. That video was published in 2010.

Many of Assange’s admirers around the world, who have long maintained that Assange, as the publisher of Wikileaks, shouldn’t be charged with crimes usually reserved for federal government employees who steal or leak information, were outraged by the charges brought against him.

A lot of people who support press freedom have claimed that putting Assange under criminal prosecution would endanger free speech.

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