Assange will plead guilty to an espionage charge in a US court in Saipan on Wednesday before returning home to Australia.

After a 14-year legal battle, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was released from Belmarsh Prison in the United Kingdom on Monday morning after agreeing to a plea deal with the United States.

Shortly afterwards, Assange boarded a flight to Australia, his home country, where his family resides.

Here’s everything you need to know about the settlement and Assange’s legal battle:

What is Julian Assange’s plea deal?

  • A letter from the U.S. Department of Justice issued Monday details the plea agreement.
  • Assange will plead guilty to a criminal charge under the US Espionage Act of “conspiring to unlawfully obtain and disclose classified information relating to the national defense of the United States,” the letter details.
  • The charge carries a maximum sentence of 62 months in prison. But under the deal, the time he has already served in prison in the UK – which is more than 62 months – will be counted against his sentence, meaning Assange will not have to spend any more time behind bars in the US, the UK, or anywhere else.
  • The formal hearing – at which Assange is expected to plead guilty – and sentencing will take place in the US District Court for the Northern Mariana Islands at 9am Wednesday (11pm GMT Tuesday). The court is based in Saipan, capital of the Northern Mariana Islands.
  • If the guilty plea is approved by the judge, as is expected, the WikiLeaks founder will return to Australia after sentencing.
Justice Department details Assange plea deal [Departamento de Justiça dos EUA via Reuters]

Where is Saipan?

  • Saipan is the largest island and capital of the Northern Mariana Islands (NMI).
  • The NMI is a U.S. community in the Western Pacific Ocean, encompassing 14 islands and beginning about 70 km (44 miles) north of Guam.
  • The NMI is, in fact, a US territory, but without statehood.
  • Prosecutors said the hearing will take place in Saipan because of Assange’s reluctance to travel to the U.S. mainland and because Saipan is closer to Australia, about 3,000 kilometers (1,800 miles) north of Assange’s home country.

Who is Julian Assange?

  • Assange, 52, was born in July 1971 in Townsville, Australia.
  • In 2006, he founded WikiLeaks, an online platform that allows people to anonymously submit confidential leaks, including videos and documents.
  • In 2010, WikiLeaks rose to prominence after publishing more than 90,000 classified US military documents from the Afghanistan war and around 400,000 classified US documents from the Iraq war.
  • In 2013, former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison for leaking thousands of secret cables to WikiLeaks. She was released after serving seven years in a military prison on the orders of then-President Barack Obama.
  • Julian Assange is married to Stella Assange, a lawyer he met in 2011 as part of his legal team. She changed her name to Stella from Sara Gonzalez Devant in 2012 to protect herself and her family while working with Assange.
  • The couple have two children and married in March 2022, in Belmarsh Prison. The family lives in Australia.
  • Through his work and years of incarceration, Assange became for many the face of the press freedom movement.

What charges did Assange face?

  • In 2010, Assange was indicted by the US government on 18 charges over WikiLeaks’ publication of classified documents. Seventeen of them were for espionage, while one was for computer misuse.
  • The charge was brought under the never-before-used Espionage Act of 1917.
  • In August 2010, an arrest warrant was issued for Assange on two counts of sexual assault in Sweden. The investigation was shelved soon after, with prosecutors citing insufficient evidence as the reason.
  • However, an investigation into one of the rape allegations was reopened in Sweden and, in November 2010, Swedish police issued an international arrest warrant for Assange, after which he sought refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in London. The rape charges were later dropped completely.
  • In 2019, Ecuador revoked Assange’s asylum status and London police arrested him. He was sentenced to 50 weeks in prison for breaching his bail conditions.

How long was Assange in prison?

  • Assange was in prison for just over 62 months.
  • In a post on X, WikiLeaks said Assange was free “after spending 1,901 days” in prison.
  • During his time in the UK’s maximum security prison, Assange fought to avoid extradition to the US.
  • Before going to prison, Assange spent seven years in the Ecuadorian embassy in central London, outside which police were stationed and ready to arrest him.
  • In 2011, a district court in Britain ordered Assange’s extradition to Sweden. After Assange’s attempts to appeal this decision failed, in June 2012 he sought asylum.

What’s next for Assange?

  • Assange returns to Australia after a legal battle that lasted more than a decade, reuniting with his wife and children.
  • WikiLeaks said in its statement on from behind. bars.”
  • “Julian is free!!!!”, his wife Stella wrote on X.
Translation: Juliano is free!!!! Words cannot express our immense gratitude to YOU ​​– yes, YOU, who mobilized for years and years to make this a reality. THANK YOU. thank you. THANK YOU. Follow @WikiLeaks for more information soon…
  • It is unclear whether Assange’s agreement with the US includes any commitments on his part about how WikiLeaks will seek to obtain reports from whistleblowers.

What are the reactions to Assange’s release?

  • Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said on Tuesday he wanted Assange back in Australia as soon as possible.
  • Australian Labor Party Member of Parliament Julian Hill said: “No one should judge Julian for accepting a deal to get out of there and go home. His health is fragile.”
  • Australian National Party MP Barnaby Joyce said he did not think what Assange had done was morally right. However, the issue was one of “extraterritoriality” as Assange was not a US citizen and was not in the US “when this crime, as they say, was created”. Joyce added: “We just need to be cautious about how it plays out because the end is not here yet.”
  • The chief executive of the Committee to Protect Journalists, Jodie Ginsberg, told Al Jazeera she was “delighted” by the news of Assange’s expected release. She said the plea deal was a way for the Biden administration to save face amid growing pressure to free Assange.
  • Colombian President Gustavo Petro also welcomed the news, posting on X: “The arrest and torture of Assange was an attack on global press freedom.”
  • Former Bolivian President Evo Morales also posted on X, saying “He was imprisoned for many years for exposing the crimes of the US to the world. He helped reveal and dismantle the lies that justify wars and invasions.”
  • The WikiLeaks
Julian Assange is free. He left Belmarsh maximum security prison on the morning of June 24, having spent 1,901 days there. He was granted bail by the High Court in London and released at Stansted Airport in the afternoon, where he boarded a plane and departed the UK.
This is the result of a global campaign that spanned grassroots organizers, press freedom advocates, policymakers and leaders across the political spectrum, all the way to the United Nations. This created space for a long period of negotiations with the US Department of Justice, leading to an agreement that has not yet been formally finalized. We will provide more information as soon as possible.
After more than five years in a 2×3 meter cell, isolated 23 hours a day, he will soon be reunited with his wife Stella Assange and his children, who only knew their father behind bars.
WikiLeaks has published groundbreaking stories about government corruption and human rights abuses, holding the powerful accountable for their actions. As editor-in-chief, Julian has paid dearly for these principles and for the people’s right to know.
As we return to Australia, we thank all those who stood by us, fought for us and remained fully committed to the fight for our freedom.
Julian’s freedom is our freedom.



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