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Julian Assange to Plead Guilty in Plea Agreement with U.S. Government, Avoiding Prison

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Elizabeth Weibel

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange will plead guilty to one count of conspiring to obtain and disclose national defense information as part of a plea agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ).

A court document from the United States District Court of the Northern Mariana Islands states:

The defendant, JULIAN PAUL ASSANGE (“ASSANGE”), was not a United States citizen, did not possess a U.S. security clearance, and did not have authorization to possess, access, or control documents, writings, or notes relating to the national defense of the United States, including United States government classified information.

Assange will appear in court at 9:00 a.m. on Wednesday before a judge in Saipan, which serves as the capital and the largest island of the Northern Mariana Islands, according to a letter from Matthew J. McKenzie.

The letter states:

We appreciate the Court accommodating these plea and sentencing proceedings on a single day at the joint request of the parties, in light of the defendant’s opposition to traveling to the continental United States to enter his guilty plea and the proximity of this federal U.S. District Court to the defendant’s country of citizenship, Australia, to which we expect he will return at the conclusion of the proceedings.

Julian Assange boards flight at London Stansted Airport at 5PM (BST) Monday June 24th. This is for everyone who worked for his freedom: thank you.#FreedJulianAssange pic.twitter.com/Pqp5pBAhSQ

— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) June 25, 2024

Assange had been detained at Belmarsh, a security prison in the United Kingdom, since April 2019 after British authorities arrested him in the Ecuadorian Embassy.

The DOJ had accused Assange of working with former U.S. Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning, formerly known as Bradley Manning, in order to steal and disclose classified documents.

In May 2019, Assange was charged with an 18-count superseding indictment from the DOJ:

The superseding indictment alleges that Assange was complicit with Chelsea Manning, a forrmer intelligence analyst in the U.S. Army, in unlawfully obtaining and disclosing classified documents related to the national defense. Specifically, the superseding indictment alleges that Assange conspired with Manning; obtained from Manning and aided and abetted her in obtaining classified information with reason to believe that the information was to be used to the inquiry of the United States or the advantage of a foreign nation; received and attempted to receive classified information having reason to believe that such materials would be obtained, taken, made, and disposed of by a person contrary to law; and aided and abetted Manning in communicating classified documents to Assange.

Assange’s plea agreement with the DOJ comes after London’s high court allowed him to appeal his extradition to the U.S.

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