Julian Assange released from British prison

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Julian Assange released from British prison

Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks was released from a British prison after his 12-year legal battle against extradition to the United States ended in a plea deal, international media reported.

Assange has reached a tentative deal with U.S. Justice Department to plead guilty to a single felony count of violating the Espionage Act, with no additional prison time, according to court filings released Monday evening, reported Xinhua.

Assange left a British prison on Monday and flew out of Britain, Wikileaks said on social media platform X.

"The defendant will plead guilty to the charge in the (Criminal) Information of conspiring to unlawfully obtain and disseminate classified information relating to the national defense of the United States," a letter filed by the Justice Department showed.

The Criminal Information, filed alongside the letter, says that Assange "knowingly and unlawfully conspired" with Chelsea Manning to "receive and obtain documents, writings, and notes connected with the national defense" and "willfully communicate" the documents to "persons not entitled to receive them."

Manning, a former U.S. Army intelligence analyst who gained prominence for leaking classified military documents to WikiLeaks in 2010, was convicted of violating the Espionage Act and sentenced to prison in 2013, but her sentence was commuted by former President Barack Obama in 2017.

Assange was embroiled in a lengthy legal battle with the U.S. government due to his role in acquiring and releasing classified military and diplomatic documents between 2009 and 2011. These files included hundreds of thousands of secret U.S. military documents related to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

His supporters viewed him as a brave journalist and whistleblower exposing government wrongdoing, while his critics share grave concerns about the potential harm caused by his leaks.

Assange fled to the Ecuadorean Embassy in London in 2012 to avoid potential sexual assault charges brought by Swedish authorities. He was granted asylum by Ecuador's government and spent seven years in the embassy, but was evicted in 2019.

British police arrested him immediately after, and he has been imprisoned in London's high-security Belmarsh prison for the past five years, where he has been fighting extradition effort by the U.S. government.

Meanwhile, Australia's Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has welcomed the news that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is set to be released by U.S. authorities.

"While this is a welcome development we recognize these proceedings are crucial and delicate," he said.

"We have engaged and advocated Australia's interest using all appropriate channels to support a positive outcome and I have done that since very early on in my prime ministership."

Source: www.dailyfinland.fi

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