reactions after the release of Julian Assange multiply – Libération

reactions after the release of Julian Assange multiply – Libération
reactions after the release of Julian Assange multiply – Libération

After five years behind bars in a high-security prison near London, the Australian whistleblower, founder of WikiLeaks, left the United Kingdom. He should be reunited with his loved ones in the coming days.

Suddenly, Julian Assange’s face appears on his wife’s phone. For the first time since 2019, the legendary Australian with white hair and a shaggy beard was able to call his family as a free man – or almost. Prosecuted for exposing hundreds of thousands of confidential documents, the 52-year-old whistleblower left the high security prison of Belmarsh, near London, on Tuesday June 24, where he had been incarcerated for 1,901 days.

A thirteen-second video, which has already gone viral, shows the WikiLeaks founder boarding a private plane heading to a US federal court in the Pacific, where he is due to plead guilty on Wednesday morning under terms of an agreement that will allow him to regain his freedom. Now prosecuted on a single charge (“conspiracy to obtain and disclose national defense information”), he should be sentenced to sixty-two months in prison, already served in pre-trial detention, which would allow him to return to his native Australia. There he will find his wife, Stella Assange, and their two children, who only knew their father behind bars. According to sources close to the matter, a discreet Australian-American-British diplomatic ballet would have made it possible to resolve this affair.

“Secret diplomacy”

This agreement, which puts an end to a trying fourteen-year saga, has provoked numerous reactions around the world. “Julian is free!!!! Words cannot express our immense gratitude to YOU ​​– yes YOU, who have all mobilized for years and years to make this happen. THANK YOU. THANKS. THANK YOU”, exulted over his wife “The priority now is to get Julian back to health.” she also launched an appeal for donations to pay the 520,000 dollars (485,000 euros) that her husband must reimburse the Australian government for chartering the plane which will take her to Australia. The mother of the whistleblower, Christine Assange, for her part said “grateful that the ordeal of [son] son finally comes to an end. This shows the importance and power of quiet diplomacy.

The WikiLeaks organization, founded by Julian Assange in 2006 and which publishes classified documents, welcomed the result of an “a global campaign that brought together grassroots organizers, press freedom activists, lawmakers and leaders from across the political spectrum, including the United Nations,” believing that “Julian paid severely for these principles and for the people’s right to know.”

Refugee in the Ecuadorian embassy in London from 2012 to 2019, the Australian spent five long years in a cell measuring two by three meters, isolated twenty-three hours a day, according to WikiLeaks. Those close to him have long described him as very physically diminished, while his defense has continued to warn of the risk of him committing suicide. Julian Assange was fighting not to be extradited to the United States, where he theoretically faced 175 years of imprisonment. “The moment we have been waiting for has finally arrivedfor its part reacted Amnesty International. Julian Assange is on his way to freedom. The fight for press freedom continues.”

Happy ending

The UN also welcomed the end of the whistleblower’s incarceration: “The increasingly prolonged detention of Julian Assange has raised concerns, responded Elizabeth Throssell, a spokesperson for the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. We will continue to monitor developments over the coming days.”

The organization Reporters Without Borders, which also worked for the release of the cyber activist, declared that its members are “extremely relieved that these proceedings have finally come to an end. “It’s a victory for journalism and press freedom.” The Australian government commented on this happy outcome, saying that the Assange affair had “dragged on for too long” and that his continued detention no longer presented any interest.

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