After a US plea agreement, Julian Assange of WikiLeaks was proclaimed a “free man” in Saipan
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After a US plea agreement, Julian Assange of WikiLeaks was proclaimed a “free man” in Saipan

When the 14-year battle came to an end, Assange appeared in court in Saipan.

Julian Assange, the creator of WikiLeaks, was freed from a US court in Saipan after pleading guilty to one count of espionage in a deal with the US Justice Department. Assange is currently traveling to Australia.

After the 52-year-old Assange came out of the same court in the US Pacific territory where he had pleaded guilty to one charge of conspiracy to hack into and leak US national defense documents his plane flew to Canberra.

District Judge Ramona Manglona of the US District Court set him back to a mandatory minimum of five years and two months which was the time that he was incarcerated in the United Kingdom for resisting deportation to the US, and she dismissed him.

“From this pronouncement, it looks like you will be able to be outside the door of this courtroom a free man,” the judge said on Wednesday.

Stella, his wife, used social media X to express her deep sorrow saying she cannot stop crying.

The Australian arrived in the United Kingdom on a private aircraft and looked comfortable as he entered the court wearing a dark suit with a loosened tie around his neck, and AUSTRALIA’S AMBASSADOR to the US, Kevin Rudd, the former prime minister.

Inside he said quite a few words to the judge, and asked and listened when the judge read the terms of the plea bargain.

When speaking directly to the court Assange stated he recognised the Espionage Act by which he was charged violated the First Amendment rights in the Constitution of the United States of America, but he adduced that the act of encouraging sources to leak classified information for publication could be unlawful.

One of the requirements that are usually demanded before anyone can enter a plea bargain is destruction of information that was passed to WikiLeaks.

The court appearance was held in Saipan because Assange refused to go to the mainland US and it is relatively close to his home in Australia, the prosecutors noticed.

An onward flight schedule shared by Wikileaks showed his flight arriving in Canberra, Australia at 7.39pm (09:39 GMT).

Australia’s Prime Minister Anthony Albanese called the hearing positive.

As for ‘all channels appropriate,’ he said Australia had used them to seek a ‘positive result’ in the case, and Rudd afterward accompanied Assange.

Albanese told reporters in Canberra, “It doesn’t matter what one thinks of Mr. Assange, now is the time to end his misery: we wish to see him coming back to Australia.”

After a short discussion following the judge’s decision, a person who spoke for Assange using a loud hailer remarked that Assange would not be making any statements nor answering any questions. The lawyer representing Assange, Jennifer Robinson who stated that this is the historic day thanked Albanese for making it possible for Assange to be released.

Another of Assange’s lawyers, Barry Pollack said his client had been unjustified.

“This is a very serious issue. They have embarked on the prosecution of Julian Assange like he is a terrorist,” said the official to reporters after the hearing. “Before the United States has ever prosecuted a publisher / journalist for breach of the Espionage Act as it has done with Mr Assange, Mr Assange published the truth which is important, new and newsworthy – memos revealing that the United States committed war crimes; and he suffered greatly.”

The court appearance and his freedom are the last part of a 14-year struggle for Assange, the computer scientist behind Wikileaks and the site that became the pride of journalists press freedom enthusiasts, who claimed he was a journalist who brought attention to the misconduct of the US military.

Arguing against accusations of sex crimes in Sweden, which were later dismissed, and fugitive from the US justice that wanted him for 18 criminal charges, Assange lingered for more than five years in a high-security British prison and seven years confined in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.

According to some branches of the media and some supporters, Assange is a victim because he publicized some areas that the US military had got wrong in its wars against Afghanistan and Iraq. Washington has said the release of the secret documents precipitated the endangerment of lives.

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