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25th Jun 2024

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange freed from prison in US plea deal

Charlie Herbert

He’s spent the last five years behind bars in London

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange been freed from prison in the UK and is leaving the country after agreeing a US plea deal.

Assange, 52, has been in Belmarsh Prison, London, for the last five years, during which time he has been fighting extradition to the US, where he was charged with conspiracy to obtain and disclose national defence information.

The US has spent years arguing that the Wikileaks files, which disclosed information about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, endangered lives.

The plea deal will see Assange plead guilty to one charge and he is due to be sentenced to 62 months in prison. However, he will receive credit for the time he has spent behind bars in the UK, and is not expected to spend any more time in custody.

Wikileaks shared a video online in which it claims shows Assange boarding a flight at Stansted Airport on at 5pm on Monday, June 24.

The Australian will now travel to the Northern Mariana Islands in the Pacific, where he is expected to appear in a US courtroom on Wednesday and enter a guilty plea, the BBC reports.

The US Department of Justice says it expects him to return to his native Australia.

In a statement, the Australian government said: “We are aware Australian citizen Mr Julian Assange has legal proceedings scheduled in the United States.

“The Australian Government continues to provide consular assistance to Mr Assange.

“Prime Minister Albanese has been clear – Mr Assange’s case has dragged on for too long and there is nothing to be gained by his continued incarceration,” it added.

In a post on X, Assange’s wife Stella thanked his supporters for their backing.

She wrote: “Words cannot express our immense gratitude to YOU- yes YOU, who have all mobilised for years and years to make this come true. THANK YOU. THANK YOU. THANK YOU.”

Assange’s mum Christine said in a statement published by Australia’s national broadcaster she is “grateful that my son’s ordeal is finally coming to an end.”

She continued: “This shows the importance and power of quiet diplomacy. Many have used my son’s situation to push their own agendas, so I am grateful to those unseen, hard-working people who put Julian’s welfare first.”

His dad John Shipton told ABC News: “It looks as though Julian will be free to come back to Australia. My thanks and congratulations to all his supporters… that have made that possible, and of course, the Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese.”

“I don’t fade easily, you know. And neither does Julian. It must be a family trait,” he added.

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