Report: Julian Assange to Plead Guilty to Spy Charge in Exchange for Freedom

June 25, 2024

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

Chief prosecutor for England and Wales, Stephen Parkinson, on the release of Julian Assange – a man the United States government has charged with espionage for what’s described as one of the largest classified leaks in history.

Why It Matters: According to reports, Assange will soon become a free man after agreeing to a plea deal with the U.S. government where he will plead guilty to an espionage charge in exchange for his freedom based on time served.

Assange founded “Wikileaks” – a “multi-national media organization and associated library” that “specializes in the analysis and publication of large datasets of censored or otherwise restricted official materials involving war, spying and corruption.” Supporters of Assange call him a journalist; others call him an advocate; others still call him a criminal for obtaining and releasing classified material. He rose to international prominence after founding Wikileaks and procuring and releasing a “trove” of classified documents during the U.S. wars with Iraq and Afghanistan that contained such information as the names of U.S. government sources; Assange and his supporters allege these documents expose the corruption of the U.S. government.

While the U.S. investigated Assange, Sweden charged him with sexual assault charges. He fought the Swedish warrant, eventually seeking asylum in the Ecuadoran embassy in Britain for seven years to avoid extradition to Sweden (he denied the Swedish charges and argued he faced persecution by the U.S. government). Sweden dropped the charges in 2019, but Assange lost the protection of Ecuador after the U.S. Justice Department officially filed espionage charges against him (also in 2019). British authorities took Assange into custody and have held him in a London-based maximum security prison. Questions continued to swirl about when/if Assange would face extradition to the United States to face these serious federal charges; that extradition never happened. Now he will reportedly plead guilty in a U.S. federal court in the U.S. territory of Northern Mariana Islands to one charge, and then return to his home country of Australia. The details of why the plea deal happens now remain TBD.

Read More: A look at Julian Assange and how the long-jailed WikiLeaks founder is now on the verge of freedom

A Timeline of Julian Assange’s Legal Saga

by Jenna Lee,