A Conditional Freedom

Listen to Today's Edition
Voiced by Amazon Polly

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was released from a British prison and appeared before a court in the Northern Mariana Islands to plead guilty to a conspiracy charge as part of a US Justice Department plea deal, ending a prolonged legal battle over his publication of classified documents, NBC News reported.

Under the agreement, Assange pleaded guilty Wednesday to a single charge of conspiracy to obtain and disclose US national defense information, according to court documents.

The court in Northern Mariana – a US-controlled territory – sentenced him to 62 months in prison, with time served: Assange was released and flew on with his legal team back to his native Australia because he has already spent years in prison in London.

This charge stemmed from Assange’s involvement in one of the largest leaks of classified information in US history.

Between 2009 and 2010, WikiLeaks, under Assange’s direction, published tens of thousands of classified US military documents and diplomatic cables. These included the Afghan War Logs, Iraq War Reports, State Department cables, and assessment briefs from Guantánamo Bay detainees, which were provided by US Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning.

The plea deal ends a years-long legal saga that saw Assange face extradition requests and a slew of charges, including sex crimes in Sweden – charges which were later dropped.

In 2012, he sought asylum at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where he remained until April 2019 when he was kicked out for bad behavior. Afterward, British authorities detained him and put him in Belmarsh Prison, where he spent the next five years fighting extradition to the US.

The publication of sensitive military documents by WikiLeaks sparked global debate, with critics accusing Assange of endangering the lives of US troops and local staff, while supporters saw him as a whistleblower of government misdeeds, according to the Washington Post.

Not already a subscriber?

If you would like to receive DailyChatter directly to your inbox each morning, subscribe below with a free two-week trial.

Subscribe today

Support journalism that’s independent, non-partisan, and fair.

If you are a student or faculty with a valid school email, you can sign up for a FREE student subscription or faculty subscription.

Questions? Write to us at [email protected].

Copy link