Julian Assange Released: WikiLeaks Founder Returns Home

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has finally been released after securing a plea deal with the U.S. government to return home to his native Australia.

Assange was released from a British prison on Monday evening and has boarded a flight to a remote Pacific island.

The whistleblower is traveling to the Northern Mariana Islands, a U.S.-controlled territory north of Guam, where he will appear in court to confirm the plea deal.

Wikileaks posted footage to X of Assange boarding a plane at Stanstead Airport near London at 5 pm (12 pm ET) on Monday.

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Assange will plead guilty to a conspiracy charge as part of a plea deal with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), according to court documents.

The agreement will free Assange and end the yearslong legal battle over the publication of a trove of classified documents.

Assange was charged by criminal information — which typically signifies a plea deal — with conspiracy to obtain and disclose national defense information, the court documents said.

A letter from DOJ official Matthew McKenzie said Assange would appear in court in the Northern Mariana Islands at 9 am local time Wednesday (7 pm ET Tuesday) to plead guilty.

A plane believed to be carrying Assange landed early Tuesday in the Thai capital Bangkok to refuel.

He will later arrive for what could be a final court hearing after spending five years in a British prison.

The islands are 3,400 miles north of Australia, Assange’s country of citizenship.

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The DOJ expects Assange will return home to Australia following the proceedings.

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said that “the case has dragged on for too long, there is nothing to be gained by his continued incarceration and we want him brought home to Australia.”

In a statement, Assange’s mother, Christine Assange, said:

“I am grateful that my son’s ordeal is finally coming to an end.

“This shows the importance and power of quiet diplomacy.”

His wife, Stella Assange, is currently in Australia with the couple’s two children, aged 5 and 7, waiting for his arrival, she told the BBC.

“He will be a free man once it is signed off by a judge,” she said.

She said she was “elated” over the news, adding that she wasn’t sure the deal would happen until the last 24 hours.

U.S. charges against Assange stem from one of the largest publications of classified information in American history.

The leak took place during former President Barack Obama’s first term.

Starting in late 2009, according to the government, Assange conspired with Chelsea Manning, a military intelligence analyst.

On its website, WikiLeaks disclosed tens of thousands of activity reports about the war in Afghanistan, hundreds of thousands of reports about the war in Iraq, hundreds of thousands of State Department cables, and assessment briefs of detainees at the U.S. detention camp at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

Court documents revealing Assange’s plea deal were filed Monday evening in U.S. District Court for the Northern Mariana Islands.

Assange was expected to appear in that court and be sentenced to 62 months.

However, with credit for time served in a British prison, he would be free to return to Australia, where he was born.

“This was an independent decision made by the Department of Justice and there was no White House involvement in the plea deal decision,” National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said in a statement Monday evening.

Assange has been held in the high-security Belmarsh Prison in east London for five years.

He previously spent seven years in self-exile at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.

During his time in the Embassy, he reportedly fathered two children with his now-wife Stella.

In April 2019, his asylum was withdrawn and he was forcibly carried out of the embassy and arrested.

A superseding indictment was returned more than five years ago, in May 2019, and a second superseding indictment was returned in June 2020.

Assange has been fighting extradition for more than a decade: first in connection with a false sex crimes case in Sweden, then in connection with the case against him in the United States.

In March, the High Court in London gave him permission for a full hearing on his appeal as he sought assurances that he could rely upon the First Amendment at a trial in the U.S. In May, two judges on the High Court said he could have a full hearing on whether he would be discriminated against in the U.S. because he is a foreign national.

A hearing on the issue of Assange’s free speech rights had been scheduled for July 9-10.

WikiLeaks also published hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton in the run-up to the 2016 presidential race.

Russian intelligence officers were subsequently indicted in connection with the hacking in 2018 in a case brought by then-special counsel Robert Mueller.

However, President Donald Trump grilled Russian President Vladimir Putin over the allegations of election interference.

At a joint news conference with Putin days later, Trump revealed that Russia played no part in obtaining the DNC and Clinton emails.

Trump confirmed that Putin was “extremely strong and powerful in his denial” that Russians interfered in the 2016 election.

The claims about Russia were later exposed as a hoax created by the Democrats to smear Trump.

It is widely believed that DNC staffer Seth Rich leaked the emails to WikiLeaks.

However, WikiLeaks has never confirmed the source.

READ MORE – FBI Asks Court to Seal Seth Rich Laptop Evidence for 66 Years

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By Frank Bergman

Frank Bergman is a political/economic journalist living on the east coast. Aside from news reporting, Bergman also conducts interviews with researchers and material experts and investigates influential individuals and organizations in the sociopolitical world.

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