Julian Assange released from prison, WikiLeaks says, after striking deal with US justice department - Politics Forum.org | PoFo

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#15319175
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Julian Assange has been released from British prison, according to WikiLeaks – the organisation he founded - which posted on social media a video of him boarding a flight at London’s Stansted Airport on Monday evening that departed the country.

The announcement that Assange was free came shortly after news broke that he was set to plead guilty this week to violating US espionage law, in a deal that would allow him to return home to his native Australia.

US prosecutors said in court papers that Assange, 52, has agreed to plead guilty to a single criminal count of conspiring to obtain and disclose classified US national defence documents, according to filings in the US District Court for the Northern Mariana Islands.

Assange is due to be sentenced at a hearing on the island of Saipan at 9am local time on Wednesday (2300 GMT on Tuesday). Under the deal, which must be approved by a judge, he is likely to be credited for the five years he has already served and face no new jail time.

In a letter to a federal judge in the district court for the remote the Northern Mariana Islands, a senior justice department official said that he was being sent to Saipan because of its “proximity to the defendant’s country of citizenship”. The official added that once the sentencing hearing was completed, Assange was expected to travel on to Australia.

WikiLeaks said on X that Assange had left Belmarsh prison on Monday morning, after 1,901 days of captivity there. He had spent the time, the organisation said, “in a 2x3 metre cell, isolated 23 hours a day”.

Assange was set to be reunited with his wife, Stella, who confirmed on X that “Julian is free!”. She thanked Assange’s supporters, saying “Words cannot express our immense gratitude to YOU- yes YOU, who have all mobilised for years and years to make this come true”.

In the WikiLeaks video, Assange, looking healthy dressed in shirt and jeans, his white hair cut short, is seen climbing the stairs into a plane.

WikiLeaks in 2010 released hundreds of thousands of classified US military documents on Washington’s wars in Afghanistan and Iraq – the largest security breaches of their kind in US military history – along with swaths of diplomatic cables.

An Australian government spokesperson did not confirm or deny the plea deal but said Canberra was “aware” of the legal proceedings, adding: “prime minister [Anthony] Albanese has been clear - Mr Assange’s case has dragged on for too long and there is nothing to be gained by his continued incarceration.”

The plea agreement comes months after President Joe Biden said he was considering a request from Australia to drop the US push to prosecute Assange.

Assange was indicted during former President Donald Trump’s administration over WikiLeaks’ mass release of secret US documents, which were leaked by Chelsea Manning, a former US military intelligence analyst who was also prosecuted under the Espionage Act.

The trove of more than 700,000 documents included diplomatic cables and battlefield accounts such as a 2007 video of a US Apache helicopter firing at suspected insurgents in Iraq, killing a dozen people including two Reuters news staff. That video was released in 2010.

The charges against Assange sparked outrage among his many global supporters who have long argued that Assange as the publisher of WikiLeaks should not face charges typically used against federal government employees who steal or leak information.

Many press freedom advocates have argued that criminally charging Assange represents a threat to free speech.

In a court document filed with the US district court for the Northern Mariana Islands ahead of Wednesday’s sentencing, the US government laid out the details of the charge of conspiracy to obtain and disclose national defense information that lies at the heart of the plea deal. It accuses Assange of “knowingly and unlawfully” conspiring with the US army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to “receive and obtain documents, writings, and notes connected with the national defense … up to the SECRET level”.

The charge adds that “in furtherance of the conspiracy, and to accomplish its objects, Assange and Manning committed lawful and unlawful overt acts” from 2009 until at least 2011 – the period immediately before and after the massive WikiLeaks trove was published.

As news of the plea deal spread on Monday night, there were widespread expressions of relief that Assange’s years-long captivity appeared to be coming to an end. But there were also concerns that a conviction, even on a single count, could have a devastating and prolonged impact on investigative and national security journalism.

Jameel Jaffer, executive director of the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University which defends press freedom, said that the plea deal averted the worst-case scenario of a full-on prosecution. “But this deal contemplates that Assange will have served five years in prison for activities that journalists engage in every day.”

Jaffer warned that the outcome could “cast a long shadow over the most important kinds of journalism, not just in this country but around the world”.

Assange was first arrested in Britain in 2010 on a European arrest warrant after Swedish authorities said they wanted to question him over sex-crime allegations that were later dropped.

He fled to Ecuador’s embassy, where he remained for seven years, to avoid extradition to Sweden.

He was dragged out of the embassy in 2019 and jailed for skipping bail. He has been in London’s Belmarsh top security jail ever since, from where he has for almost five years been fighting extradition to the US. The hearing is taking place in the Mariana Islands because of Assange’s opposition to travelling to the continental US and the court’s proximity to Australia.

While in Belmarsh, Assange married his partner Stella with whom he had two children while he was in the Ecuadorian embassy.

Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison after being convicted of violating the Espionage Act and other offences for leaking classified government and military documents to WikiLeaks.

President Barack Obama commuted her sentence in 2017, allowing her release after about seven years behind bars.

Reuters contributed to this report


Very interesting development.
#15319219
“But this deal contemplates that Assange will have served five years in prison for activities that journalists engage in every day.”


Every day? Such are hacking into government computers to obtain classified information? Or the publication of documents containing the unredacted names of human sources in Iraq and Afghanistan, putting them in immediate danger?

But I have to give credit to all the lawyers and activists that managed to depict Assange as the innocent victim of an anti-free speech which-hunt.

P.S.: I say that as somebody who thinks Snowden is a hero.
#15319220
As far as I know, Wikileaks itself didn't hack anything, they simply published information provided by a whistleblower who was exposing war crimes. The idea that this is some sort of crime compared to you know.. the actual war crimes shows how warped this conversation has become and also shows how successful the US state has been at framing the narrative.
#15319222
KurtFF8 wrote:As far as I know, Wikileaks itself didn't hack anything, they simply published information provided by a whistleblower who was exposing war crimes. The idea that this is some sort of crime compared to you know.. the actual war crimes shows how warped this conversation has become and also shows how successful the US state has been at framing the narrative.


What "framing"? Assange was indicted by a federal jury. Are the charges made-up? I don't think so. It was difficult for Assange to fight extradition because the crimes he's accused of are also crimes in the countries he resided in.

Meanwhile, Assange and his supporters are framing it as some great which-hunt where the law is actually undermined, instead of being upheld, which is a lie. Assange does this to save his own skin.

What lesson should we draw from this? That everything would be fine if only there weren't a lawless evil US government?

Snowden on the other hand never claimed to be innocent. He took the fall for society.
#15319229
KurtFF8 wrote:Source



Very interesting development.


I am mixed on this. On one side he did some good things, on the other side he is a traitor since he exposed intelligence assets/killed people and Russian collaborator but he had no real option besides being a Russian collaborator.

Meh, should be arrested now for killing Belarussian opposition figures for example since he released some info that lead to Lukashenko cracking people down for example.
#15319239
Rugoz wrote:What "framing"? Assange was indicted by a federal jury. Are the charges made-up? I don't think so.


That doesn't really mean much. It's quite easy for the US justice system to indict anyone. And of course it just means that's what he's charged with or accused of.

And of course most charges were dropped.
#15319241
KurtFF8 wrote:As far as I know, Wikileaks itself didn't hack anything, they simply published information provided by a whistleblower who was exposing war crimes.

That's not true. Assange is a skilled longtime hacker, as are other members of Wikileaks: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Julian_Assange#Hacking

The idea that this is some sort of crime compared to you know.. the actual war crimes shows how warped this conversation has become and also shows how successful the US state has been at framing the narrative.

If they behaved more like journalists do and exposed wrongdoing while also making efforts to protect people at risk from classified content exposure I think it would be a lot more supported by people, including Snowden. Just dumping masses of info and not redacting anything isn't responsible.
#15319268
KurtFF8 wrote:That doesn't really mean much. It's quite easy for the US justice system to indict anyone. And of course it just means that's what he's charged with or accused of.

And of course most charges were dropped.


What do you think about Assange sending info in secret to Lukashenko which got opposition leaders imprisoned and killed?

Also for example this:

In 2015, Assange dumped files on Saudi Arabia, which outed:
• A Saudi man arrested for being gay
• Several Saudis suffering from HIV
• The virginity status of multiple Saudi women

There are many such examples actually. What do you think all about that?
#15319305
Rugoz wrote: Such are hacking into government computers to obtain classified information?


He didnt do that. He was handed such information by people who already had access, namely Manning, and have been worried because they knew about developments the general public should know about. At least if you are working with the assumption that democracy is a human right, which yes, it is.

By the way, its funny how people actually believe its easy to hack computers, especially if the other side actually cares about security. Its really not.

Not that I havent noticed that many people went from literally closed systems, not even Unix, to Windows with all the security holes in the world, when they really shouldnt, and even given internet access, which is also a really bad idea. Even the military. So yeah, hacking the government has become much easier than in the past.

So people apparently just dont care anymore and personally I think thats amazingly dumb of them.



Rugoz wrote: Or the publication of documents containing the unredacted names of human sources in Iraq and Afghanistan, putting them in immediate danger?


He didnt do that either. That too is simply a propaganda lie.

Assange did journalism. He uncovered information thats important to the general public, and carefully followed journalistic procedures to protect his sources and to make sure the information released would put nobody in danger.

Yes, OTHER people didnt follow these practices, but thats not Assanges fault, nor could he stop them (he tried).
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