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WikiLeaks founder Assange released after historic US document leak

WikiLeaks founder Assange released after historic US document leak Julian Assange: Timeline of Wikileaks founder’s legal battles, England, June 25, 2024 (AFP Photo)
By Associated Press
Jun 25, 2024 10:34 AM

A plane believed to be carrying Julian Assange landed Tuesday in Bangkok, as the WikiLeaks founder was on his way to enter a plea deal with the U.S. government that will free him and resolve the legal case that spanned years and continents over the publication of a trove of classified documents.

Chartered flight VJT199 landed in the afternoon at Don Mueang International Airport, north of the Thai capital. Airport officials told The Associated Press the plane was only in Bangkok for refueling and was scheduled to depart Tuesday evening for Saipan, the capital of the Northern Mariana Islands, a U.S. commonwealth in the Western Pacific, where he will appear in court Wednesday morning local time.

He’s expected to plead guilty to an Espionage Act charge of conspiring to unlawfully obtain and disseminate classified national defense information, according to the U.S. Justice Department in a letter filed in court.

Assange is expected to return to his home country of Australia after his plea and sentencing. The hearing is taking place in Saipan because of Assange’s opposition to traveling to the continental U.S. and the court’s proximity to Australia, prosecutors said.

A guilty plea has been reached in a criminal case shrouded in international intrigue. This brings an end to the U.S. government’s years-long pursuit of a publisher whose hugely popular secret-sharing website made him a cause celebre among many press freedom advocates who said he acted as a journalist to expose U.S. military wrongdoing. Investigators, by contrast, have repeatedly asserted that his actions broke laws meant to protect sensitive information and put the country’s national security at risk.

Last Updated:  Jun 25, 2024 10:34 AM