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Assange returns home (VIDEO)

A plane carrying the WikiLeaks co-founder has landed in Australia after he was freed as part of a plea deal with the US

WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange has arrived in his native Australia, hours after formally accepting a plea deal in a US court in the Northern Mariana Islands. Assange was accused of illegally obtaining and disclosing national security materials which shed light on alleged American war crimes.

The charter flight VJT199 traveling from Saipan landed at an airport in Canberra on Wednesday evening local time after a six-hour journey. Assange was accompanied by Australia’s ambassador to the US, Kevin Rudd, UK High Commissioner Stephen Smith and his lawyer, Jen Robinson.

According to WikiLeaks, Assange will hold a press conference a couple of hours after his arrival.

Earlier in the day, Assange pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to obtain and disseminate national defense information at a US court in Saipan, and was sentenced to five years – time he has already served in London’s Belmarsh maximum security prison.

As part of the deal, the US also agreed to drop its request for extradition while demanding that Assange instruct WikiLeaks to destroy classified information stored on its servers or devices.

Numerous experts and free speech advocates have suggested that Assange had been “coerced” into pleading guilty and that he should not have been prosecuted in the first place.

READ MORE: Assange pleads guilty to espionage

Stella Assange had earlier said the key priority following her husband’s release would be to get him “healthy again,” as “he’s been in a terrible state for five years,” referring to his time in prison. She had also signaled that her husband would seek a presidential pardon following the guilty plea.

June 26, 2024 at 03:13PM

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