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Julian Assange Returns Home to Australia After Plea Deal

Julian Assange on Wednesday returned to his native Australia following a plea deal that facilitated his release from a London prison. Emotional scenes unfolded at Canberra Airport as the WikiLeaks founder reunited with his wife and father, while his visibly moved lawyers looked on. “Julian needs time to recover and adjust to freedom,” stated Stella […]

Julian Assange on Wednesday returned to his native Australia following a plea deal that facilitated his release from a London prison. Emotional scenes unfolded at Canberra Airport as the WikiLeaks founder reunited with his wife and father, while his visibly moved lawyers looked on.

“Julian needs time to recover and adjust to freedom,” stated Stella Assange during a news conference shortly after her husband’s arrival. Assange, who has been entangled in a legal battle with US officials for the past 14 years over accusations of leaking classified documents, did not attend the conference. Instead, his wife and lawyer spoke on his behalf.

“You have to understand what he’s been through,” Mrs. Assange explained, emphasizing their need to “let our family be a family.” The couple, who married in London’s Belmarsh prison in 2022, share two children.

Assange’s plea deal involved pleading guilty to one charge of conspiracy to obtain and disclose national defence information significantly reduced from the original 18 charges. The case revolved around WikiLeaks’ 2010 disclosure of a US military helicopter video showing civilian casualties in Baghdad and the release of thousands of confidential documents revealing unreported incidents involving civilian deaths by the US military during the Afghanistan war.

These revelations sparked global reactions and intense scrutiny of American military actions in foreign conflicts. Assange formally entered his plea in the Northern Mariana Islands, a US territory in the Pacific, two days after leaving Belmarsh prison. In return, he was sentenced to time served and allowed to fly home.

Jen Robinson, Assange’s lawyer, criticized the deal as a “criminalization of journalism” and a “dangerous precedent.” Mrs Assange echoed this sentiment, expressing hope that the media would recognize the threat posed by the US case against her husband, which she argued criminalizes newsgathering and the publication of truthful information that the public has a right to know.

 

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