July 19, 2024

Athens News

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Julian Assange leaves British prison and flies to Australia (video)

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been released from Britain's Belmarsh maximum security prison. He was taken to the airport, from where he flew to Australia.

How writes BBC and other media, he made a deal with the US authorities and is now free. The company he founded, WikiLeaks, reported on the social network X:

“Julian Assange is free. He left prison … on the morning of June 24, having spent 1,901 days there. The High Court in London granted him bail and released him in the afternoon at Stansted Airport, where he boarded a plane out of the UK.”

Edition DW reportsthat Assange reached a deal with US authorities. He pleads guilty to a single charge out of 18 – conspiracy to obtain and disclose national defense information. In return, he will be sentenced to 62 months already served in a British prison, which will allow him to remain free. He is expected to appear in court in Saipan, a US Pacific territory, on Wednesday morning.

US charges against Assange stem from the largest leak of classified information in American history. The investigation found that, beginning in late 2009, Assange conspired with Chelsea Manning, a military intelligence analyst and activist, to publish tens of thousands of reports on WikiLeaks about the war in Afghanistan, fighting in Iraq and data on prisoners at Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba. According to the totality of the articles, he faced up to 175 years in prison.

Since April 2019, Assange has been in the British Belmarsh prison, from where he challenged extradition to the United States. Before that, for another 7 years he hid in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, which granted him political asylum. After the Wikileaks revelations, events unfolded like this for him, the BBC says:

  • August 2010 – Swedish prosecutors issue an arrest warrant for Assange on charges of rape and one count of molestation – allegations he says are “baseless.”
  • December 2010 – Assange is arrested in London and released on bail on the second attempt.
  • May 2012 – The UK Supreme Court rules that he should be extradited to Sweden for questioning.
  • June 2012 – Assange enters the Ecuadorian embassy in London. Ecuador later granted him asylum.
  • April 2017 – America's Attorney General said the arrest of Assange was a “priority” for the United States.
  • May 2017 – Sweden announces it has closed its investigation into Assange's rape, after previously stopping other investigations.
  • November 2018 – It is revealed that the US Department of Justice has secretly brought charges against him.
  • April 2019 – Assange is arrested in the UK after the Ecuadorian government revokes his asylum. He is found guilty of breaching the Bail Act and sent to Belmarsh Prison.
  • May 2019 – Assange is sentenced to 50 weeks in prison. He continues to be held after serving his sentence.
  • January 2021 – A judge rules that Assange cannot be extradited to the United States.
  • December 2021 – The US government wins its bid to overturn the decision to refuse Assange's extradition.
  • April 2022 – UK Home Secretary signs Assange's extradition order after he was refused permission to appeal the December 2021 decision. He appeals the latest extradition order in July.
  • June 2023 – Assange loses final extradition appeal.
  • May 2024 – The UK High Court rules that he can file a new extradition appeal.
  • June 2024 – Assange is granted bail and released from prison after negotiating a plea deal with US authorities.

The creator of WikiLeaks spent 1,901 days in a penitentiary. The deal has not yet been officially completed, indicated in WikiLeaks. Assange will not be in US custody and will be given credit for time spent in custody in the UK. The plea deal is expected to be finalized in Northern Mariana Islands court on Wednesday. He is expected to return to Australia, according to the US Department of Justice.

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Under the terms of the new agreement, US Justice Department prosecutors will seek 62 months in prison for the Australian whistleblower. Assange spent so much time in a maximum security prison in London. The court in the Northern Mariana Islands, an unincorporated organized territory of the United States, is expected to rule on June 26.

In the USA, the creator of WikiLeaks accused of 18 counts, including theft of classified information, espionage and conspiracy to hack computer networks. If convicted, he faces up to 175 years in prison.

According to Washington, Assange received classified materials relating to US military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan from American soldier Bradley Manning (who later changed his gender and became Chelsea Manning). This endangered the lives of US intelligence service informants, according to US authorities. At the same time, Assange’s supporters note that as a result of the publication of materials on WikiLeaks, the public learned about crimes committed by American soldiers in the Middle East.

From 2012 to 2019, Assange took refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, fearing arrest on a European warrant issued by Sweden based on a rape case. The WikiLeaks founder did not admit guilt and indicated that Sweden could extradite him to the United States. Swedish justice authorities later dropped their preliminary investigation into the whistleblower.

In April 2019, Ecuador deprived the creator of WikiLeaks of asylum, citing violations of international conventions. At the same time, the whistleblower was arrested at the embassy of the South American country.

A month ago:

Documentary film about WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange Risk 2017:

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