Wikileaks’ Julian Assange Released from U.K. Prison, Heads to Australia

Wikileaks' Julian Assange

Jun 25, 2024NewsroomNational Security / Wikileak

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been freed in the U.K. and has departed the country after serving more than five years in a maximum security prison at Belmarsh for what was described by the U.S. government as the “largest compromises of classified information in the history” of the country.

Capping off a 14-year legal saga, Assange, 52, pleaded guilty to one criminal count of conspiring to obtain and disclose classified U.S. national defense documents. He is due to be sentenced to 62 months of time already served in the Pacific island of Saipan later this week.

According to the Associated Press, the hearing is taking place there because of Assange’s “opposition to traveling to the continental U.S. and the court’s proximity to Australia.”

Cybersecurity

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

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

Assange, who was granted bail by the High Court in London on Monday, and has since boarded a flight to Australia. He also faced separate charges of rape and sexual assault in Sweden, claims he has denied.

The U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) in 2019 said Assange’s actions “risked serious harm to United States national security to the benefit of our adversaries and put the unredacted named human sources at a grave and imminent risk of serious physical harm and/or arbitrary detention.”

It’s believed that the DoJ accepted the plea agreement with no additional prison time because of the fact that Assange had already served longer than most people charged with a similar offense.

Founded in 2006, WikiLeaks is estimated to have published more than 10 million documents related to war, spying and corruption, including military field logs from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. as well as diplomatic cables from the United States (dubbed Cablegate) and information about detainees at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp.

Cybersecurity

Notably, it also released a tranche of cyber warfare and surveillance tools allegedly created by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), a collection cumulatively known as Vault 7 and Vault 8, and documents detailing the National Security Agency’s spying of France, Germany, Brazil, and Japan.

Joshua Schulte, a former CIA engineer who was accused of passing on the confidential trove of cyber weapons, has since been sentenced to 40 years in prison.

Another of Assange’s collaborators, Chelsea Elizabeth Manning (born Bradley Edward Manning), was sentenced to 35 years in prison for disclosing to WikiLeaks hundreds of thousands of documents that came to be known as the Iraq War Logs and Afghan War Diary before then-president Barack Obama commuted her sentence in January 2017.

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