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South American leader invites Assange to visit

The WikiLeaks co-founder is welcome in Colombia, its leader said as Assange is expected to avoid further jail time

President Gustavo Petro has invited WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange to visit Colombia after the news broke that the activist has been released from the Belmarsh maximum-security prison in London on Tuesday morning.

Assange is expected to plead guilty to disseminating state secrets as part of a plea deal with the US authorities and finally walk free later this week, ending his more than two decades-long fight against prosecution.

“I congratulate Julian Assange on his freedom. Assange’s eternal imprisonment and torture was an attack against the freedom of the press on a global scale,” the Colombian leader wrote on X (formerly Twitter).

“Assange’s eternal imprisonment and torture was an attack against the freedom of the press on a global scale,” the Colombian leader wrote on X (formerly Twitter). “Denouncing the massacre of civilians in Iraq at the hands of the US was his ‘crime,’ and now the same massacre is being repeated in Gaza.”

Petro invited Assange and his wife Stella to visit Colombia as “an act of true freedom.”

Former Bolivian President Evo Morales also congratulated the WikiLeaks co-founder. “He has been imprisoned for many years for exposing the crimes of the United States to the whole world. He helped us to unveil and dismantle the lies that they used to justify wars and invasions,” he wrote on X.

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Assange leaves UK prison to finalize plea deal with US (VIDEO)

Throughout the years, WikiLeaks published many top secret files, including documents connected to the US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as a trove of US diplomatic cables. In 2010, the website released footage of a US military helicopter gunning down civilians in Baghdad in 2007 after mistaking them for hostiles.

Between 2011 and 2019, Assange was hiding inside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London out of fears of extradition. Ecuador eventually revoked his asylum status, after which Assange was ejected from the embassy and immediately arrested by British police. He was later convicted of jumping bail and spent five years in the Belmarsh prison in London.

Assange is set to appear in court in the US Pacific territory of the Northern Mariana Islands on Wednesday. The plea deal will carry a sentence of five years – the term he had already served in the UK. Without the deal, Assange would have faced up to 175 years in prison, if found guilty, his legal team said.

June 25, 2024 at 10:24AM
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