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WikiLeaks founder Assange pleads guilty in US deal to go free

EXTRADITION BATTLE

Assange had been held in London’s high-security Belmarsh prison since April 2019.

He was arrested after spending seven years in the Ecuadorian embassy in London to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he faced sexual assault allegations that were eventually dropped.

The material he published through WikiLeaks included a video showing civilians killed by fire from a US helicopter gunship in Iraq in 2007. The victims included a photographer and a Reuters driver.

The United States charged Assange under the Espionage Act of 1917 and his supporters warned he risked being sentenced to 175 years in prison.

The British government approved his extradition in June 2022 but, in a recent twist, two British judges said in May that he could appeal against the transfer.

The plea deal was not entirely unexpected. US President Joe Biden had been under increasing pressure to drop the long-running case against Assange.

The Australian government made an official request to this effect in February and Biden said he would consider it, raising hopes among Assange’s supporters that his ordeal could end.

In the first official U.S. reaction to the plea deal, State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said that as the case is about to go before a judge, “I believe it is appropriate for me not to comment on the matter at this time.” this moment”.

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