Julian Assange plea deal live: ‘elated’ Stella Assange says couple’s children unaware their father to be freed

Julian Assange’s wife has said that her husband will seek a pardon from the US presidency after making a deal to accept a charge under the US Espionage Act. The WikiLeaks founder is currently en route to Australia after being released from prison the UK.

Assange is reportedly travelling to a hearing on the island of Saipan in the Northern Mariana Islands, where he will be sentenced at 9am local time on Wednesday (11pm GMT on Tuesday).

“The fact that there is a guilty plea, under the Espionage Act in relation to obtaining and disclosing National Defence information is obviously a very serious concern for journalists and national security journalists in general,” she told Reuters.

She told the agency it had been “a rough few years” and that she would not really believe he was free until they were reunited. She said she was still worried something would go wrong. Stella Assange, a lawyer who has worked on his campaign for release for many years, said:

I feel elated. I also feel worried, you know, because I’m so used to this. Anything could happen. I’m worried that until it’s fully signed off, I worry, but it looks like we’ve got there. I’ll really believe it when I have him in front of me and I can take him and hug him and then it will be real you know?

She confirmed that they intend to launch a fundraising campaign, after chartering a flight to take him from the UK to Australia via Thailand and the Northern Mariana Islands had cost $500,000 (£393k / $750k AUD). She told Reuters:

It’s Australian policy that he will have to pay his own return flight so he’s had to charter a flight and so he will basically be in debt when he lands in Canberra. We’re going to launch an emergency fund to try to get this money so that we can pay the Australian government back for his freedom flight.

The couple have two children, who are in Australia with her, but are yet to be told that their father has been released. “All I told them was that there was a big surprise,” she told the BBC earlier, saying the details of Assange’s release needed to be kept under wraps while they were travelling to Australia, and “obviously no one can stop a five and a seven-year-old from, you know, shouting it from the rooftops at any given moment.”

The plea agreement comes months after the US president, Joe Biden, said he was considering a request from Australia to drop the US push to prosecute Assange. Assange was indicted during the former president Donald Trump’s administration over the release of hundreds of thousands of classified US military documents on Washington’s wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Many press freedom advocates have argued that criminally charging Assange represents a threat to free speech.

Gabriel Shipton, who is Julian Assange’s brother, has said “The Australian government has played a significant role in these last moments. They have played an integral role securing his release and getting him on that plane. But they couldn’t have done that without the support of the Australian people. We are very thankful for the Australian people and everyone around the world who has been advocating for Julian.”

This is another handout screengrab showing Julian Assange in Bangkok.

Brazil’s president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has reacted to the release of Julian Assange. Reuters reports he said:

Today the world is a little better and less unfair. Julian Assange is free after 1,901 days in prison. His release and return home, albeit belatedly, represent a victory for democracy and the fight for press freedom.

Film-maker Michael Moore, who put up a $20,0000 bond in 2010 for Assange’s release on bail, said this was a “happy day”.

Moore said of Assange: “the good people of this world will never forget your sacrifice”, adding “Although 14 years of his life were stolen from him by a government of, yes, war criminals, they were never able to lay a hand on him”.

“Hopefully, someday, this country of ours will apologise to him for this torture. In the meantime, let us all draw from him the kind of courage that is needed during our darkest times of aggression and the funding of foreign slaughter with our tax dollars,” Moore added.

“It is also my hope that we will sometime soon return to having a vital and vibrant press that exists to uncover the lies and protect us, the citizens, from those who would seek to end our democracy”.

In launching a fundraising appeal to cover Julian Assange’s travel costs from the UK to Australia via Thailand and Saipan, his wife Stella Assange has revealed “he was not permitted to fly commercial airlines or routes to Saipan and onward to Australia.”

Julian Assange has been photographed arriving by plane in Bangkok

Julian Assange has “paid his dues” and “justice has been served”, according to James Clapper, the US director of national intelligence when the trove of classified documents was released in 2010.

In an interview with CNN, Clapper said it was crucial that Assange will plead guilty to violating US espionage law.

“Critical to this was his plea of one count of espionage,” said Clapper. “I think the law enforcement community and the intelligence community wouldn’t have bought into this without that. He’s served, essentially, seven years of incarceration in the Ecuadorian embassy in London. He was released from that and then the Brits arrested him and he did 62 months in jail of hard time in London. So he’s sort of paid his dues.”

Clapper pointed out that Assange’s actions “could have put at risk people or compromised sources or methods”. But he said that a damage assessment at the time did not reveal any direct proof that assets in Afghanistan or Iraq who were helping the United States were exposed.

He added: “You can’t have a system where people, on their own, decide it’s ok to expose all this classified information. That’s an important principle to bear in mind here. But I think justice has been served.”

The International Federation of Journalists has described Julian Assange’s release from prison as a “significant victory for media freedom.”

“The dropping of 17 of the 18 charges that he faced avoids the criminalisation of the normal journalistic practices of encouraging sources to confidentially share evidence of wrongdoing and criminality,” read an IFS statement reported by PA Media, which also offered a reminder that more than 500 journalists remain in prison around the world.

The federation’s president Dominique Pradalie said the development meant “victory for the right to inform and to be informed” and “victory for journalists around the world.”

Its general secretary Anthony Bellanger added: “The attempted prosecution of Julian Assange cast a dark shadow over journalists, particularly those who cover national security issues. Had Assange gone to prison for the rest of his life, any reporter handed a classified document would fear facing a similar fate.”

The National Union of Journalists’ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet said: “The targeting and persecution of journalists in this way is one that underscores the need to defend journalism and the methods used daily, including when cultivating a source.

“Collectively, we must do all that is necessary to protect press freedom and continue to resist efforts threatening the safety of journalists. As the NUJ continues to monitor developments, I hope this juncture leads to a more concrete end to the nightmare experienced by Assange.”

Both of Julian Assange’s parents have spoken to the media today about the impending release of their son.

Assange’s father John Shipton told PA Media he felt “elated” at hearing the news of his son’s dramatic journey from the UK and that his release had “lifted a huge burden” from his family.

He said recent court hearings in the UK had given him hope that the “tide was turning” in his son’s favour, as well as increasing pressure from the Australian government.

Speaking from Australia, he said he hoped his son will spend time “walking along beaches and listening to birds” in the next few weeks and months.

Assange’s mother, Christine Assange, told Australia’s Sky News that she is “grateful” her son’s ordeal is “finally coming to an end”.

She said: “This shows the importance and power of quiet diplomacy. Many have used my son’s situation to push their own agenda, so I am grateful to those unseen, hardworking people who put Julian’s welfare first.

“The past 14 years have obviously taken a toll on me as a mother, so I wish to thank you in advance for respecting my privacy.”

William Booth, writing for the Washington Post, says that “Julian Assange may be about to win, while also having lost”. He writes:

His story of hacking and leaking, flight and imprisonment, courtroom theatrics and now possibly imminent release is inspiring, chilling, depressing – depending on how you view Assange.

The case raised, but never definitively answered, vital questions about what it means to be a journalist, a publisher and a whistleblower.

Was he a non-state actor threatening the national security of the US, as CIA director Mike Pompeo once alleged? Or a hero, as his many supporters believed.

Assange’s defenders have for years argued that his first amendment rights – to publish leaked, embarrassing, newsworthy information about U.S. conduct in overseas wars – were under assault.

Booth, citing Assange’s apparent fragile health in recent appearances, said “he has paid a high price. In his last appearances in a London courtroom, appearing behind a glass wall, he was a physically diminished man. He looked unwell, and he barely spoke.”

Speaking to the media earlier today, Assange’s wife, Stella Assange that his health would be a priority, and that after years in detention he would need time and privacy.

Julian Assange’s court appearance before a US federal judge is expected to take place at 9am local time Wednesday morning (11pm GMT Tuesday night) at the US District Court in Saipan in the Northern Mariana Islands.

The Northern Mariana Islands are a commonwealth of the US, consisting of 14 islands. The territory was captured from Japan during the second world war, and was administrated by the US in the immediate aftermath of the conflict.

Haroon Siddique is the Guardian’s legal affairs correspondent

The prosecuting authority in England and Wales, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), has released this statement in addition to quotes from senior figures in the organisation:

Mr Assange’s proposed plea agreement to settle his extradition case entered the public domain in March this year. Thereafter, the CPS advised the US on how to bring the proposed agreement to fruition which required Mr Assange to appear in person before a US federal judge. The CPS has also worked closely with the National Crime Agency to help put in place the necessary practical arrangements to enable Mr Assange to leave the jurisdiction safely, and in accordance with his wishes and those of the US government.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) of England and Wales said a bail hearing for Julian Assange was held in private last Thursday.

PA Media quotes Stephen Parkinson, director of public prosecutions, saying:

Thirteen-and-a-half years and two extradition requests after he was first arrested, Julian Assange left the UK yesterday, following a bail hearing last Thursday, held in private at his request.

I am proud of the way our extradition unit has dealt with this case. They have acted with expertise and skill, under international scrutiny, to provide legal advice to both the Swedish and US authorities.

This case has absorbed considerable time and resource from the criminal justice system over many years. The intended outcome of the plea agreement will be to accomplish the primary objective of delivering justice. It will also save the continuing substantial resource outlay involved in litigating this matter further in England.

The CPS prosecutes criminal cases in England and Wales, and is set up to be a body independent of the police and government. It decides which cases should be prosecuted in England and Wales, and prepares the charges and presents them in court.

John Sheehan, head of extradition at the CPS, said:

This has been a highly complex matter involving advising and representing the Swedish and US authorities. In this period, the CPS’s extradition unit has faced and dealt with novel and challenging legal issues. Mr Assange has also utilised all the legal protections available to him. This has culminated in facilitating the arrangements necessary to enable Mr Assange to leave the UK legally and safely.

Here is an updated report from my colleague Daniel Hurst in Canberra, taking in the latest political reaction to Julian Assange’s release.

Stella Assange has posted to social media to say that her husband, Julian Assange, will “soon take off again and fly into US airspace where he will appear before a US judge”.

She said “Please follow #AssangeJet, we need all eyes on his flight in case something goes wrong.”

The official WikiLeaks account has also posted a new picture of Julian Assange on the plane en route to Bangkok.

This is a view of Assange’s plane during its stopover in Thailand.


Updated: Juni 25, 2024 — 9:38 am

Tinggalkan Balasan

Alamat email Anda tidak akan dipublikasikan. Ruas yang wajib ditandai *