Assange will plead guilty to espionage in the United States to obtain freedom

Assange will plead guilty to espionage in the United States to obtain freedom

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is expected to plead guilty this week to violating the US espionage law, in a deal that could end his imprisonment in the UK and allow him to return home to Australia.

U.S. prosecutors said in court documents that Assange, 52, has agreed to plead guilty to a single criminal charge of conspiracy to obtain and disclose classified United States national defense information, according to documents filed in the United States District Court for the Northern Mariana Islands.

Assange is scheduled to be sentenced at a hearing on the island of Saipan on Wednesday at 9 a.m. It is likely that he will be credited for the time he has already served and will not be given new prison sentences.

In 2010, WikiLeaks released hundreds of thousands of classified US military documents about Washington’s wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the largest security breaches of its kind in US military history.

Assange was charged during the administration of former President Donald Trump for the massive publication of secret US documents by WikiLeaks.which were leaked by Chelsea Manning, a former US military intelligence analyst who was also prosecuted under the Espionage Act.

The more than 700,000 documents included diplomatic cables and battlefield accounts, such as a 2007 video of a U.S. Apache helicopter firing on suspected insurgents in Iraq, killing a dozen people, including two Reuters news staff. That video was made public in 2010.

The charges against Assange sparked outrage among his many supporters around the world, who have long maintained that Assange, As Wikileaks editor, he should not face the charges often used against federal government employees who steal or leak information.

Many press freedom advocates have argued that criminally charging Assange represents a threat to freedom of expression.

Assange was first detained in Britain in 2010 under a European arrest warrant, after Swedish authorities said they wanted to question him over allegations of sexual offenses that were later dropped. He fled to the Ecuadorian embassy, ​​where he remained for seven years, to avoid extradition to Sweden.

He was dragged from the embassy in 2019 and jailed for bail jumping. Since then he has been in London’s Belmarsh maximum security prison, from where he has been fighting extradition to the United States for almost five years.

During his stay in Belmarsh he married his partner, Stella, with whom he had two children while he was a refugee in the Ecuadorian embassy.