WikiLeaks | Julian Assange reaches an agreement with American justice to regain freedom

(Washington) One of the most wanted men in the world, Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks, has agreed to plead guilty in American justice to regain his freedom after five years of detention in the United Kingdom.


Posted at 7:52 p.m.

Updated at 9:49 p.m.

Selim SAHEB ETTABA

France Media Agency

Prosecuted for exposing hundreds of thousands of confidential documents, this 52-year-old Australian must appear Wednesday at 9 a.m. local time (Tuesday 7 p.m. Eastern time) in federal court in the Mariana Islands, a US Pacific territory, according to court documents made public overnight from Monday to Tuesday.

“Julian Assange is free” and left the United Kingdom and the high security prison near London where he had been incarcerated since 2019, to board a plane at Stansted airport, WikiLeaks said shortly after, welcoming that he can reunite with his wife, Stella Assange, and their children, “the result of a global campaign”.

The organization then released a 13-second video in which we see him climbing the stairs of the aircraft.

Now targeted by criminal information for “conspiracy to obtain and disclose information relating to national defense”, Julian Assange should plead guilty to this charge alone, according to these documents, which also cite his accomplice, the American soldier Chelsea Manning, origin of this massive leak.

He is expected to be sentenced to 62 months in prison, already served on remand in London, which would allow him to return free to his native Australia.

“Julian is free!” ! ! “, exulted his wife Stella Assange, expressing “immense gratitude” to those who have mobilized “for years” to make his release become “a reality”.

The Australian government also commented on this outcome, saying that the Assange case had “drawn on for too long” and that his continued detention was no longer of any interest.

This agreement, which puts an end to a saga of almost 14 years, comes two weeks before a new crucial hearing before the British courts. This was to examine on July 9 and 10 Julian Assange’s appeal against his extradition to the United States.

Punishable by 175 years in prison

He was fighting not to be handed over to American justice, which is pursuing him for having made public since 2010 more than 700,000 confidential documents on American military and diplomatic activities, particularly in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Among these documents is a video showing civilians, including two Reuters journalists, killed by fire from an American combat helicopter in Iraq in July 2007.

Targeted by 18 charges, he theoretically faced up to 175 years in prison under the Espionage Act.

PHOTO MATT DUNHAM, ASSOCIATED PRESS

Julian Assange in 2019

Chelsea Manning, for her part, was sentenced to 35 years in prison by a court martial in August 2013, but was released after seven years after her sentence was commuted by President Barack Obama.

The British government approved the extradition of Julian Assange in June 2022.

The latest twist in this long-running affair which has become a symbol for his supporters of the threats weighing on freedom of the press, two British judges granted him in May the right to appeal against his extradition.

That appeal was to include whether he would benefit from free speech protection as an alien in the U.S. legal system.

The founder of WikiLeaks was arrested by British police in April 2019 after seven years spent in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, in order to avoid extradition to Sweden in a rape investigation, dismissed the same year.

Since then, calls have increased for US President Joe Biden to drop the charges against him. Australia submitted a formal request to this effect in February, which Mr. Biden said he was considering, raising hope among his supporters.

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