Julian Assange freed: What we know so far

RT, June 25, 2024 — 

The WikiLeaks publisher has been released from Belmarsh prison in London as part of a plea deal with the US.

WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange has been freed from Belmarsh maximum security prison in the UK after spending the last five years fighting extradition to the US. On Monday, the 52-year-old publisher reportedly agreed to a plea deal with the US Justice Department and was granted bail by the High Court in London.

Washington has accused Assange of illegally obtaining and disclosing national security materials that shed light on alleged US war crimes in the Middle East.

Assange freed

One of the first to share news of Assange’s release was WikiLeaks. In a post on X (formerly Twitter), the organization announced that the publisher had reached a plea deal with US authorities and left Belmarsh on the morning of June 24 after having spent 1,901 days there.

Following his release, Assange boarded a plane at Stansted airport and left the UK. He has since landed in Bangkok, Thailand for a layover and is later expected to fly on to the Northern Mariana Islands – a US territory in the Pacific.

The plea deal

According to the US Justice Department, Assange has agreed to plead guilty before a judge in a US court on Wednesday. The publisher is expected to admit to a single count of conspiracy to obtain and disseminate national defense information.

He will reportedly be sentenced to five years in prison, with credit for the time he has already served in the UK, meaning that he should be able to immediately return to his home country of Australia.

Assange’s supporters rejoice

News of Assange’s release was met with cheers from his supporters, who have spent the last five years calling for his freedom.

Stella Assange, his wife, has expressed “immense gratitude” to everyone who has worked throughout the years to help her husband and has said she will now focus on getting him “healthy again” since he has been in a “terrible state” for the past five years.

“Throughout the years of Julian’s imprisonment and persecution, an incredible movement has been formed. People from all walks of life from around the world who support not just Julian… but what Julian stands for: truth and justice,” she wrote on X where she shared an image of her husband video-calling her from the airport.

Battle not yet over

While Assange’s release from Belmarsh has been perceived by many as a major victory in his battle against Washington’s espionage charges, some have noted that he may still face a threat from the US government, as the plea deal is not yet finalized.

Assange is a “marked man” and “will always be in danger” after exposing US secrets, Craig Murray, a human rights activist and former UK ambassador to Uzbekistan, has told RT, adding that this threat comes “particularly from the malicious forces of the CIA and the United States.”

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