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Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks

Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, enters a plea agreement with the US.

Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, has ended the years-long international scandal surrounding his handling of information related to national security by entering into a plea agreement with the US government.

According to recently filed court documents, Assange is getting ready to enter a guilty plea to a single count of conspiring to obtain and divulge material related to the national security this week before a U.S. federal court in Saipan, in the Northern Mariana Islands, a U.S. commonwealth in the Pacific.

Assange will serve 62 months in prison under the terms of the agreement, which is the same amount of time he has already spent there while battling extradition to the US. After the court hearing later this week, he is anticipated to be freed and travel back to Australia.

For years, Australian officials have been pleading with the Biden administration to dismiss the criminal prosecution. At a press conference in April, President Biden stated that US officials had been “considering” taking such action.

In 2019, Assange was charged with espionage and computer misuse by a federal grand jury in Virginia. The Justice Department called this as one of the biggest compromises of secret information in American history.

According to the accusation, Assange plotted with Chelsea Manning, a military private at the time, to collect and publish classified reports regarding the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq as well as sensitive diplomatic cables from the United States. According to the prosecution, Assange posted the documents on his website WikiLeaks without fully purging them of any sensitive material, placing informants and other people in severe danger.

At the time of that indictment, then Assistant Attorney General John Demers stated, “No responsible actor, journalist or otherwise, would purposefully publish the names of individuals he or she knew to be confidential human sources in a war zone, exposing them to the gravest of dangers.”

Following her capture in 2010, Manning was imprisoned for seven years until her sentence was commuted by President Barack Obama.

Fearing that the Espionage Act prosecution against Assange could set a precedent for accusing journalists of crimes related to national security, human rights and journalism organizations such as Amnesty International and the Committee to Protect Journalists supported Assange’s cause.

His dealings with the legal system have taken an intricate route. After being accused of sexual assault by Swedish officials, Assange spent seven years in hiding at the Ecuadorian embassy in London. This arrangement seemed to irritate both Assange and his hosts.

After the Swedish police eventually dropped the charges, he was arrested by British authorities on suspicion of breaching bail.

The American government then attempted to deport him, a procedure that took years to wind its way through the legal system. More court cases on the extradition scheduled for early July are avoided by the plea agreement.

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