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World|politics|June 26, 2024 / 09:59 AM
WikiLeaks founder Assange released after a deal with U.S. authorities, case against him dropped

AKIPRESS.COM - WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has pleaded guilty to a felony charge of violating the Espionage Act after his organization obtained and published classified military and diplomatic documents in 2010, The Washington Post reported.

Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona sentenced Assange, who had spent five years in a British prison before being released Monday, to time served. 

During the sentencing, the Chief Judge noted that Julian Assange spent about five years in one of the harshest prisons in the UK - Belmarsh prison, and, according to the prosecution, the secret information he received and published did not lead to victims. "It appears that your 62 months was fair, reasonable and proportionate to the actual period of imprisonment. For these reasons, I effectively sentence you to time served," the judge concluded. "It looks like you can walk out of this courtroom a free man," she added.

After the verdict was announced, Assange was again asked if he understood all the terms of the agreement. He responded in the affirmative.

"What set a frightening precedent was the accusation. Today the court found that the publication did not cause any harm. We know they were newsworthy, we know they were quoted by every major news outlet on the planet, and we know they revealed important information. This is called journalism," the lawyers told reporters after the meeting.

The defense also said that WikiLeaks work will continue and Julian Assange will continue to advocate for free speech and government transparency. Lawyer Jennifer Robinson thanked the Australian government for helping to secure the deal: "In particular, I want to thank our Prime Minister Anthony Albanese for his statesmanship and his diplomacy in making this outcome possible. He raised issues at the highest level." The journalist himself, leaving the courthouse, refused to comment to the media.

Julian Assange is an Australian journalist and founder of WikiLeaks, which specializes in publishing classified and confidential information. In 2010, the website published materials related to US actions in Iraq and Afghanistan. In this regard, the United States charged him with 18 counts of violating the Espionage Act. The journalist faced 175 years in prison.

From 2012 to 2019, Assange hid in the territory of the Ecuadorian embassy in London, and then he was deprived of diplomatic asylum. He was held in London's Belmarsh prison for five years, fighting US requests for his extradition. As part of a deal with the US Department of Justice, he pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to obtain and disclose national defense information. In response, prosecutors recommended that he be sentenced to 62 months in prison and credit for time spent in a British prison. After his release from the courtroom, he planned to return to Australia.

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