Julian Assange finally returns to Australia after a decade-long battle

The WikiLeaks founder touches down in Canberra, ending his legal battle with a plea deal and a homecoming.

Julian Assange finally returns to Australia after a decade-long battle
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Julian Assange has landed in Australia, concluding a protracted legal battle that has spanned more than ten years, rooted in the release of classified US State Department documents.

Arriving at Canberra airport on Wednesday evening at 7:45pm local time, Assange travelled via a crowd-funded private jet marked VJT199. He was greeted by a sea of media and supporters, eager to witness his return.

Hundreds of onlookers watched as the plane taxied across the runway. Australian Border Force officials boarded the aircraft to ensure the WikiLeaks founder cleared customs before setting foot on Australian soil.

On exiting the plane, Assange raised his fist to the cheering crowd before making a short walk across the tarmac. He waved triumphantly and embraced his wife, Stella Assange, who had campaigned tirelessly for his release.

Assange then greeted other family members and his father amid the resounding cheers from his supporters.

Earlier in the week, Assange entered a plea deal with US prosecutors, pleading guilty to conspiring to unlawfully obtain and disseminate classified information, a violation of the US Espionage Act. This agreement spared him further imprisonment.

Assange's legal woes began in 2010 after WikiLeaks released thousands of classified US military documents and diplomatic cables. DOJ prosecutors argued these actions compromised national security, while Assange's lawyers defended his actions under the First Amendment's free speech protections.

Assange's decade-long saga saw him evade extradition, seek refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, and eventually face imprisonment in the UK.

His return to Australia marks the end of a significant chapter in his life and the beginning of a new one on home soil.

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  • By Avi Yemini

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