Julian Assange pleads guilty to leaking classified US documents; he will be able to return to Australia

The founder of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, declared himself guilty of violating the United States Espionage Act for the leak of classified documents, as part of an agreement with the US Government that will allow you to return to Australia after a 14-year legal saga.

At a court appearance in the Northern Mariana Islands, Assange pleaded guilty, as expected, to a criminal charge of conspiring to obtain and disclose US classified documentsin connection with the largest leak in American history in 2010, which included almost half a million documents about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Before pleading guilty, the WikiLeaks founder sat upright, his hands carefully clasped and his expression neutral, answering questions from Judge Ramona Villagomez Manglona about the implications of the plea agreement, which involves, among other things, waiving his right to appeal.

Finally, Assange leaned towards the microphone and, when asked if he was pleading guilty or not guilty, he responded: “Guilty of the information”according to the British newspaper The Guardian.

The guilty plea occurred without television cameras in a US federal courtroom located on the island of Saipan, capital of the Mariana Islands, a US territory in the Pacific Ocean.

The Australian’s defense requested to hold the hearing in this place due to its proximity to Australia and because Julian Assange did not wish to travel to the continental United States.

According to what the cameras were able to capture upon entering the court, Assange, 52, has his white hair combed back and is dressed in a dark suit and white shirt.

He also wears a dark copper-coloured tie with the names of the designers ‘Vivienne Westwood + Andreas Kronthaler’, who were in charge of designing the clothes that the Australian wore in 2022 at his wedding, with his wife, Stella, and their two children. The tie also bears a heart symbol.

Following the WikiLeaks founder’s guilty plea, US prosecutors proceeded to read the agreement they reached with Assange’s defense and which establishes that The accused will accept his guilt in exchange for a sentence of 62 months in prison, which he has already served. in the high security prison of Belmarsh (United Kingdom).

The pact establishes that he will be given credit for time served, so that Assange will be released after the court hearing and will be able to head to his native Australiawhere his wife, Stella, and his two children are waiting for him.

In its X account, WikiLeaks has written that Assange’s plane will leave the Northern Mariana Islands for Australia at around 12:15 local time on Wednesday (02:15 GMT).

The plea agreement marks the end of a legal saga in which Assange spent more than five years in a high-security British prison and seven years in the Ecuadorian embassy in London.while facing accusations of sexual crimes in Sweden and fighting extradition to the United States.