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Julian Assange Live News: WikiLeaks Founder Pleads Guilty and Awaits Sentence in Saipan District Courtroom | Julian Assange

Assange pleads guilty to US espionage

Helen Davidson

Helen Davidson

Assange and his lawyers are now on their feet. She is asked if she will plead guilty or not guilty.

Assange leans towards the microphone. When she is asked if she will plead guilty or not guilty, she Assange replies:

Guilty of the information.

(This is a guilty plea, in legal language.)

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Key events

Helen Davidson

Helen Davidson

McKenzie, one of the American lawyers, is now reading the details of the classified information. Chelsea Manning downloaded and then provided to Wikileaks “on the understanding that at least some of them would be published publicly.”

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Helen Davidson

Helen Davidson

More details of the crime

US prosecutors are reading more details about the crime of “intentionally and unlawfully obtaining, delivering and transmitting confidential information belonging to the Defense of the United States.”

The defendant (using Wikileaks) publicly requested information from people who at the time had current or previous classified information.

McKenzie notes that Wikileaks also published a “most wanted” list of leaks, including CIA databases, as well as rules of engagement from Iraq and Afghanistan, Guantanamo Bay interrogation techniques, CIA interrogation videos and information on certain weapons systems.

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Here is a photo of the US District Court in Saipan, where the hearing is currently taking place.

The US court where WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange pleaded guilty to a charge of US espionage. Photograph: Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images
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Helen Davidson

Helen Davidson

Clarification of guilt

She is asking her attorneys for a little clarification on that statement, which seemed to deviate from what she might have expected as an admission of guilt.

Assange’s lawyer says his client feels the two laws should be separate, but “understands that no court has held that there is a First Amendment defense to the Espionage Act… and is pleading guilty on that basis.”

Assange confirms it.

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Helen Davidson

Helen Davidson

Judge Manglona asks Assange to explain “what he did” for which he pleads guilty.

Working as a journalist, I encouraged my source to provide information that was said to be classified so that that information could be published. I thought the first amendment protected that activity but I accept that it was… a violation of the espionage statute.

She pushes for more.

I think the First Amendment and the Espionage Act are at odds, but I agree that it would be difficult to win such a case given all the circumstances.

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Helen Davidson

Helen Davidson

Judge considers sentence

The court is now debating the details of the sentence and whether Judge Manglona will accept the guilty plea and other aspects of the agreement.

US lawyers tell the court the details of the 35-year sentence initially handed down to Assange’s “co-conspirator”. Chelsea Manning. That sentence was later commuted by the then president, Barack Obama, and he served approximately seven years. The judge says this is something he can consider.

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Helen Davidson

Helen Davidson

The US government is not pursuing any seizure of Assange.

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Helen Davidson

Helen Davidson

‘I am’: Assange pleads guilty to charges

Assange said he read “carefully” and signed the plea agreement while at Stansted Airport on June 24.

Judge Manglona has verified several times that no one has attempted to bribe, intimidate or coerce Assange into pleading guilty. He has said not always.

She asks him if he is pleading guilty because “he is in fact guilty of that charge.” Assange pauses considerably and says:

Am.

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The Guardian has not independently confirmed this, but WikiLeaks has published in X that Assange can leave for Canberra, Australia, in less than three hours on Flight VJT199.

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Helen Davidson

Helen Davidson

US prosecutors are now reading the plea agreement and some slight amendments to the text.

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Helen Davidson

Helen Davidson

Court proceedings progress rapidly

Manglona is a professional and experienced senior judge. She is roaring through this hearing, noting several times that most are not going that fast and stopping to check that Julian Assange is up to date with all legalities.

She asks him if Assange is happy with the process so far and he jokes that it might depend on the outcome.

His lawyer adds: “no pressure, your honor.”

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Helen Davidson

Helen Davidson

Julian Assange is obliged to instruct WikiLeaks destroy the information and provide an affidavit that you have done so.

American lawyers are pleased that he did so.

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Helen Davidson

Helen Davidson

Assange faces up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. Once the sentence is pronounced, the court could still set a probationary period of one to five years.

This is all because the crime you are here to plead guilty to is a class C felony.

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Assange pleads guilty to US espionage

Helen Davidson

Helen Davidson

Assange and his lawyers are now on their feet. She is asked if she will plead guilty or not guilty.

Assange leans towards the microphone. When she is asked if she will plead guilty or not guilty, she Assange replies:

Guilty of the information.

(This is a guilty plea, in legal language.)

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‘You only have a little time on this earth’: Assange’s father

Going back to Julian Assange’s father, John Shipton, who was speaking to ABC News just before.

He is asked what he thinks of Assange’s agreement to plead guilty to espionage, in the hope of returning to Australia.

I divide it in two. One is the human factor, that you only have a little time on this earth to spend with your loved ones. That’s all you get. The construction, or if you prefer the exposition and understanding of what amounts to the decision to make freedom available to Julian under certain circumstances, is vital. You can’t live here without time on this earth and spending time with your loved ones is really important.

The other section… relations between states, how states can work together and work together, particularly when the United States is immensely powerful, a superpower economically and militarily, and Australia is relatively small and weak, compared to that gigantic superpower. .

John Shipton, Julian Assange’s father. Photograph: Mike Bowers/The Guardian
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Helen Davidson

Helen Davidson

Judge Manglona says she accepts Assange’s resignation.

It’s 9:34 a.m.

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Helen Davidson

Helen Davidson

Judge reads charge

Manglona is now reading the charge against Assange, of conspiracy to obtain and disclose classified United States documents.

This is a crime punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

She’s explaining the formalities: If he doesn’t waive his right to an indictment by pleading guilty, he could be sent to trial.

Assange responds with brief answers to their questions, saying he understands.

Manglona: “Do you want to waive your right to present an indictment to a grand jury?”

“Yes,” he says.

Assange sits at the desk, leaning toward the microphone with his hands clasped.

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