Julian Assange to go free after pleading guilty in deal to end legal battle over leaks

Julian Assange will be able to walk free from a US courtroom after a judge says she approved a plea deal with prosecutors, ending his 14-year legal ordeal.

In Saipan, Judge Manglona says it is “fair” and “reasonable” to accept the 62 months he has already spent in a cell as his sentence.

Assange earlier pleaded guilty in a US court in deal to end legal battle over leaks

The Wikileaks founder formally pleaded guilty to a single charge of conspiring to obtain and disclose classified US national defence documents.

Assange is due to leave a free man after the hearing at a court in the Northern Mariana Islands, a US territory

He was pursued by US prosecutors for leaking a vast amount of secret US military information.

Last week he signed a deal with the US that would see him plead guilty to one espionage charge instead of the 18 he was originally facing.

He left the UK on Monday local time after spending five years in prison there fighting extradition to the United States.

His sentence is due to be announced shortly.

Assange told the courtroom that when he published the classified documents that had been leaked to him in 2010, he was working as a journalist and believed he would be protected by the First Amendment. He also said he believed the Espionage Act – which he is being charged under – conflicts with the First Amendment.

The prosecutor said the government did not dispute Assange’s belief that his actions should have been covered by the First Amendment – which protects free speech – but the facts stand.

Assange did not dispute the prosecutor’s account, and the judge confirmed the prosecution intended to dismiss other charges against Assange.

According to WikiLeaks, Assange will be landing in Australia’s capital, Canberra, once his hearing wraps up in the Northern Mariana Islands.

The US territory in the western Pacific was chosen due to Assange’s opposition to traveling to the mainland US and for its proximity to his native Australia, prosecutors have said.

– BBC

According to the news on Radio New Zealand

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