Julian Assange to return to Australia under new plea deal

The WikiLeaks founder avoids US imprisonment following negotiations.

Julian Assange to return to Australia under new plea deal
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WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is poised to evade incarceration in the United States by agreeing to a plea deal that may allow him to return to Australia immediately.

The 52-year-old Assange is expected to enter into a plea agreement with the US Justice Department, enabling his release despite facing severe charges related to the acquisition, receipt, and disclosure of classified information on WikiLeaks in 2010.

Although the plea deal awaits approval from a federal judge, prosecutors are advocating for a 62-month sentence. This period matches the time Assange has already served in a UK prison, potentially facilitating his release.

Assange was accused by US prosecutors of collaborating with army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning in 2010 to hack into a Pentagon computer and disseminate confidential US military and diplomatic documents.

Without the plea agreement, Assange risked a life sentence in the United States under the Espionage Act, a statute established during World War I to address espionage and treachery. The act has never been applied to charge a publisher before.

Supporters of Assange argue he has been persecuted for revealing US misconduct in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. For the past five years, Assange has been held in a high-security prison in London, following seven years of self-imposed exile in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.

International leaders from countries including Mexico, Brazil, Britain, and Australia have long advocated for the charges against Assange to be dropped.

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  • By Avi Yemini

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