Assange secures freedom with guilty plea

Julian Assange has been released after spending years in jail

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has pleaded guilty in a deal with the U.S. Justice Department, securing his freedom and bringing an end to a long legal battle.

Julian Assange received a sentence to time already served in Britain as part of the plea deal, which was entered in a federal court in Saipan, the capital of the Northern Mariana Islands.


The big picture: U.S. District Judge Ramona Manglona imposed the sentence on Assange resolving a criminal case involving the receipt and publication of war logs and diplomatic cables detailing U.S. military wrongdoing in Iraq and Afghanistan.

  • Under the plea deal, Assange will be required to destroy classified information provided to WikiLeaks as a condition.

Why it matters: The plea deal represents a final chapter in a court fight involving Assange, characterized by his supporters as a transparency crusader and criticized by national security hawks for putting lives at risk and straying beyond traditional journalism duties.

The backstory: Assange’s legal woes included an unsealed indictment in 2019 related to his activities with former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning in obtaining and publishing documents detailing U.S. military misconduct in Iraq and Afghanistan.

  • Assange faced extradition efforts by the U.S. government, leading to a process that encountered skepticism from British judges regarding his treatment in the American criminal justice system.
  • Julian Assange won the right to appeal an extradition order last month, arguing that inadequate assurances were provided regarding his free speech protections if extradited to the U.S.
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