Wikileaks’ Julian Assange boards plane out of UK as he ‘agrees plea deal’ to walk free after five years in prison

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WIKILEAKS founder Julian Assange has boarded a plane leaving the UK after reportedly agreeing a plea deal to walk free.

Assange, 52, has been held in prison in London for the last five years and fought extradition to the United States.

Julian Assange was seen boarding a plane at London Stansted Airport on Monday eveningReuters

The Wikileaks founder left Belmarsh maximum security prison on Monday morning after five yearsReuters

US authorities are understood to have dropped their demand for Assange, pictured above in London on Monday, to be extradited from the UKReuters

A video released by WikiLeaks on X showed the founder boarding a plane out of the UK from Stansted Airport at 5pm on Monday.

The footage also shows Assange travelling to the airport via a car, before signing documents and walking towards the aircraft.

It comes as US authorities are understood to have agreed to drop their demand for Julian Assange to be extradited from the UK.

In return for pleading guilty to one count of conspiracy to obtain and disclose national defence information, Assange will be sentenced to time served, 62 months – the time he has already spent in a British prison.

Court documents revealing Assange’s plea deal were filed in the US District Court for the Northern Mariana Islands, a US territory in the Pacific Ocean.

Assange is expected to appear in Saipan, the capital of the Northern Mariana Islands, on Wednesday morning.

He is, however, expected to get credit for the five years he has already served behind bars in the UK and could face no new prison time.

It would mean that he is free to return to Australia, where he was born.

Assange has been held in the high-security Belmarsh Prison on the outskirts of London for half a decade.

The charges against Assange stem from one of the largest publications of classified information in American history.

WikiLeaks rose to prominence in 2010 as it published a series of leaks provided by a US Army intelligence analyst named Chelsea Manning.

The information included the Baghdad airstrike Collateral Murder video, the Afghanistan war logs, the Iraq war logs, and Cablegate.

American prosecutors had alleged that Assange put lives at risk when publishing the information online.

Being in fear of the US government, Assange took refuge in the Embassy of Ecuador in London.

WikiLeak’s official X account, formerly Twitter, claimed that Assange was “free” and has already departed the UK.

The post read: “Julian Assange is free. He left Belmarsh maximum security prison on the morning of 24 June, after having spent 1901 days there.

“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.

“We will provide more information as soon as possible. After more than five years in a 2×3 metre cell, isolated 23 hours a day, he will soon reunite with his wife Stella Assange, and their children, who have only known their father from behind bars.

“WikiLeaks published groundbreaking stories of government corruption and human rights abuses, holding the powerful accountable for their actions.

“As editor-in-chief, Julian paid severely for these principles, and for the people’s right to know.

“As he returns to Australia, we thank all who stood by us, fought for us, and remained utterly committed in the fight for his freedom. Julian’s freedom is our freedom.”

Assange was granted asylum by Ecuador due to fears of political persecution and extradition to the United States.

He remained in the Embassy of Ecuador in London for approximately seven years.

He was granted Ecuadorian citizenship in 2018 but the asylum was withdrawn following a series of disputes with the Ecuadorian authorities in 2019.

Assange was forcibly carried out of the embassy and arrested in April 2019.

In May of 2019, he was found guilty of breaching the Bail Act and was sentenced to serve 50 weeks in a UK prison.

The US government also unsealed an indictment against Assange for alleged computer intrusion, related to the leaks provided by Manning.

Towards the end of May 2019, the US government also charged Assange with violating the Espionage Act of 1917.

The Department of Justice “broadened” the charges against him in June, claiming he conspired with the web activist group Anonymous.

If convicted, he would have been held in isolation at the maximum-security Supermax jail in Colorado, described as a “fate worse than death” by a former warden.

Assange has been fighting extradition to the US for more than a decade.

In March, the High Court in London gave him permission for a full hearing on his appeal as he sought assurances that he could rely upon the First Amendment at a trial in the United States.

In May, two judges on the High Court said he could have a full hearing on whether he would be discriminated against in the US because he is a foreign national.

A hearing on the issue of Assange’s free speech rights had been scheduled for July 9-10.

Assange has two children with lawyer and now-wife Stella Morris while living at the Ecuadorian embassy.

The pair tied the knot in March 2022. 

He was previously married to Teresa Assange from 1989 to 1999, with whom he has one son.

PAJulian Assange has reportedly reached a plea deal with the US[/caption]

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