Wikileaks founder freed after five years in prison

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Wikileaks founder freed after five years in prison

After a years-long legal saga, Wikileaks says that founder Julian Assange has left the UK after reaching a deal with US authorities that will see him plead guilty to criminal charges and go free.

Mr Assange, 52, was charged with conspiracy to obtain and disclose national defence information.
For years, the US has argued that the Wikileaks files – which disclosed information about the Iraq and Afghanistan wars – endangered lives.

For the last five years, he has fought extradition to the US from a British prison.

Mr Assange also faced separate charges of rape and sexual assault in Sweden, which he denied.
He spent seven years hiding in Ecuador’s London embassy, claiming the Swedish case would lead him to be sent to the US.

Swedish authorities dropped the case in 2019 and said that too much time had passed since the original complaint, but UK authorities later took him into custody. He was tried for not surrendering to the courts to be extradited to Sweden.

According to CBS, the BBC’s US partner, Mr Assange will spend no time in US custody and will receive credit for the time spent incarcerated in the UK.

Assange will return to Australia, according to a letter from the justice department.
On X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, Wikileaks said that Mr Assange left Belmarsh prison on Monday after 1,901 days in a small cell.

He was then “released at Stansted airport during the afternoon, where he boarded a plane and departed the UK” to return to Australia, the statement added.

Video shared online by Wikileaks appear to show Mr Assange, dressed in jeans and a blue shirt, being driven to Stansted before boarding an aircraft.