Julian Assange: Wikileaks founder leaves UK after reaching plea deal with US authorities

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Julian Assange, the Wikileaks founder who has spent the last five years in detention in the UK amid fighting extradition to the US, has left the country.

The 52-year-old was charged with conspiracy to obtain and disclose national defence information after files were uploaded to Wikileaks that disclosed information about the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. US authorities argued the the publication of this material endangered lives.

Assange will now plead guilty to a single criminal charge of conspiring to obtain and disclose classified US national defence documents as part of the plea deal. This plea will see him spend no time in US custody and instead return to his native Australia.

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A video of Assange leaving was posted to the Wikileaks X (formerly Twitter) account, which stated in the caption that he had “spent 1901 days” at Belmarsh prison. A statement from Wikileaks read: “He was granted bail by the High Court in London and was released at Stansted airport during the afternoon, where he boarded a plane and departed the UK.

“This is the result of a global campaign that spanned grass-roots organisers, press freedom campaigners, legislators and leaders from across the political spectrum, all the way to the United Nations.

“This created the space for a long period of negotiations with the US Department of Justice, leading to a deal that has not yet been formally finalised.”

The Wikileaks founder left the UK on Monday evening (June 24) from London Stansted and is being accompanied by Stephen Smith, Australia’s high commissioner to the UK, according to Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese. He said: “Regardless of the views that people have about Julian Assange and his activities, the case has dragged on for too long, there is nothing to be gained by his continued incarceration and we want him brought home to Australia.”

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Christine Assange, his mother, told Sky news Australia that she was “grateful” that her son’s ordeal is “finally coming to an end. She said: “This shows the importance and power of quiet diplomacy. Many have used my son’s situation to push their own agenda, so I am grateful to those unseen, hard-working people who put Julian‘s welfare first.

“The past 14 years have obviously taken a toll on me as a mother, so I wish to thank you in advance for respecting my privacy.”

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