Julian Assange expected to plead guilty, avoid further prison time as part of deal with US

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By Yosi Yahoudai
Founder and Managing Partner

The Justice Department has reached an agreement with Julian Assange to plead guilty to a single felony count of conspiring to unlawfully obtain and disseminate classified information, in a deal that is expected to resolve the Wikileaks founder’s charges in the U.S. with no further time in prison, according to court documents unsealed Monday evening.

The deal is expected to effectively bring to an end to a yearslong legal battle by the U.S. to prosecute Assange over the publishing of classified military and diplomatic materials that were leaked by former American soldier Chelsea Manning in 2010, including some that showed possible war crimes committed by American forces in Iraq.

According to a letter posted by U.S. prosecutors, Assange will plead guilty in U.S. federal court in the Northern Mariana Islands and is expected to return afterward to Australia, indicating prosecutors will not be requesting a judge sentence him beyond the term of time served for the five years he has spent in London’s Belmarsh prison fighting extradition.

The plea deal would resolve charges federal prosecutors brought against Assange under the Espionage Act over Wikileaks’ publication of the leaked diplomatic and military documents that has come under criticism by First Amendment advocates over its potential implications for media freedom, as well as Assange’s ongoing detention in the U.K. which has been widely condemned by human rights organizations.

FILE – WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange being taken from court, where he appeared on charges of jumping British bail seven years ago, in London, Wednesday May 1, 2019.

AP Photo/Matt Dunham, File

The deal should mean that Assange will finally walk free after spending more than a decade in some form of confinement while seeking to avoid prosecution by the U.S.

For the past five years, Assange has been imprisoned in London’s Belmarsh prison, one of the U.K.’s most secure jails, while he fought a U.S. extradition effort.

Prior to that, Assange spent seven years confined inside Ecuador’s embassy in London, where he fled in 2011 to avoid potential sexual assault charges brought in Sweden. Assange was granted asylum by Ecuador’s government, which permitted him to live in the embassy building, while British police mounted a permanent watch outside.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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About the Author
Yosi Yahoudai is a founder and the managing partner of J&Y. His practice is comprised primarily of cases involving automobile and motorcycle accidents, but he also represents people in premises liability lawsuits, including suits alleging dangerous conditions of public property, third-party criminal conduct, and intentional torts. He also has expertise in cases involving product defects, dog bites, elder abuse, and sexual assault. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California and is admitted to practice in all California State Courts, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Yosi by clicking here.