Decade-Long Saga Ends: Julian Assange to Accept Guilty Plea


Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, is expected to plead guilty to one count of espionage in a US court on Wednesday, bringing an end to a decade-long battle to avoid extradition from the UK. According to court documents, Assange will enter his guilty plea in the US District Court for the Northern Mariana Islands, having refused to travel to the continental US.

Assange, 52, has been held in Belmarsh prison in London since 2019, pending the outcome of his extradition hearings, which were repeatedly delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. His legal team, which has denied the accusations, could not be immediately reached for comment.

The agreement comes after more than a decade of efforts by Assange to avoid extradition, and follows a lengthy investigation into his role in publishing classified documents concerning the US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The documents, which were leaked to WikiLeaks by Chelsea Manning, included over 750,000 stolen US documents and were published between 2009 and 2011.

The case has drawn widespread attention for its implications on press freedoms, with organizations such as the Committee to Protect Journalists warning that it could severely imperil the ability of journalists to obtain and publish classified information. Ahead of the 2016 US presidential election, WikiLeaks published a trove of emails stolen from the Democratic National Committee, which was later revealed to be the work of Russian hacking groups.

US prosecutors initially charged Assange with a single count under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, and later added 17 additional charges under the Espionage Act. Assange’s attorneys argued that due to his deteriorating mental health, extradition to the US would increase the likelihood of suicide. However, US prosecutors secured permission to extradite Assange by offering UK courts a slate of written assurances, including a promise not to subject him to “special administration measures”.

Dell Cameron
Dell Cameron
Dell Cameron is an investigative reporter from Texas covering national security and tech policy. He's a recipient of multiple Society of Professional Journalists awards and co-recipient of an Edward R. Murrow Award for Investigative Reporting. Previously, he was a senior reporter at Gizmodo and a staff writer for the Daily Dot.

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