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‘Julian Assange is free’: Wikileaks releases statement as Assange leaves UK prison

Julian Assange has left the UK prison he has spent the last five years in, and has bordered a flight back to Australia.

Assange is expected to plead guilty to a felony charge of conspiring to obtain and disclose classified US national defence documents, according to criminal paperwork filed in the US District Court for the Northern Mariana Islands.

He will be charged with time served. The Wikileaks X account announced the Australian journalist’s freedom.

“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.”

The MEAA’s president Karen Percy has also welcomed the news, and slammed the initial charges as a “grotesque overreach” by the US government.

“The deal reported today does not in any way mean that the struggle for media freedom has been futile; quite the opposite, it places governments on notice that a global movement will be mobilised whenever they blatantly threaten journalism in a similar way.

“The espionage charges laid against Assange were a grotesque overreach by the US government and an attack on journalism and media freedom.

“The pursuit of Julian Assange has set a dangerous precedent that will have a potential chilling effect on investigative journalism.

“The stories published by WikiLeaks and other outlets more than a decade ago were clearly in the public interest. The charges by the US sought to curtail free speech, criminalise journalism and send a clear message to future whistleblowers and publishers that they too will be punished.

“This was clearly in the public interest and it has always been an outrage that the US government sought to prosecute him for espionage for reporting that was published in collaboration with some of the world’s leading media organisations.”

 

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