Julian Assange pleads guilty to espionage ahead of return to Australia

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WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange will fly to Canberra within hours and is due to arrive this evening following a plea deal to set him free.

According to The Daily Telegraph, Assange, 52, pleaded guilty at the US court in Saipan to a single count of conspiracy to obtain and disseminate US national defence information.

In court, Judge Ramona Manglona read out the charge against Assange, of conspiring to obtain and disclose classified US documents.

When asked if he would plead guilty or not guilty, the WikiLeaks founder leaned towards his microphone and replied: “Guilty to the information.”

Julian Assange walks through the US Federal Courthouse in Saipan ahead of his hearing. Picture: AFP
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange arrives at the US Federal Courthouse with Kevin Rudd. Picture: Getty Images

The court heard that Assange must tell WikiLeaks to destroy the information and give an affidavit indicating he has done so, and the US attorneys are convinced that this has been done.

Assange faces up to 10 years in prison and a fine up to $250,000 as the offence is a class C felony.

He told the judge that he reviewed the plea deal “at great length” before signing it on June 24 at London’s Stansted airport. The court is anticipated to sentence him to the 62 months he has already served at London’s Belmarsh Prison.

The hacker has spent the past five years behind bars. In 2019 he was sentenced to 50 weeks in prison for refusing to surrender from the London Ecuadorean embassy.

Stella, Assange’s wife, released a video on X of her husband coming at court, as well as a moving remark about her worry about his well-being.

Assange’s father, John Shipton hopes his son will take a year off to appreciate “the beauty of ordinary life” as the WikiLeaks founder is hours from touching down in Australia.

“Julian hasn’t been home in 16 years. So it’s really a joyous day for us.”

Source: The Daily Telegraph

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