• D.C.
  • BXL
  • Lagos
  • Dubai
  • Beijing
  • SG
  • D.C.
  • BXL
  • Lagos
Semafor Logo
  • Dubai
  • Beijing
  • SG

Updated Jun 25, 2024, 7:12am EDT
Europe
icon

Semafor Signals

Julian Assange departs UK after agreeing to plea deal with US

Insights from The New York Times and The Guardian

Arrow Down
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange looks out a plane window as he approaches Bangkok airport for layover, according to the post by Wikileaks on X, in this picture released to social media on June 25, 2024. Wikileaks via X/via REUTERS
WikiLeaks, X/via Reuters
PostEmailWhatsapp
Title icon

The News

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange boarded a flight out of the United Kingdom on Tuesday after he accepted a plea deal with the United States.

The 52-year-old Australian served more than five years in a London maximum security prison as American law enforcement sought to extradite him over WikiLeaks’ release of a trove of classified US documents in 2010, including diplomatic cables and military records.

AD

Assange will fly to the Northern Mariana Islands, a US Commonwealth region near Guam. He is set to enter his plea in court there, spending no time in US custody, before returning home to Australia.

“We thank all who stood by us, fought for us, and remained utterly committed in the fight for his freedom,” WikiLeaks posted on X. “Julian’s freedom is our freedom.”

icon

SIGNALS

Semafor Signals: Global insights on today's biggest stories.

Assange will plead guilty under the US Espionage Act

Source icon
Source:  
The New York Times

The WikiLeaks founder will plead guilty to one felony count of illegally obtaining and disclosing national security material, and is expected to be sentenced to five years. Assange will not spend any additional time in prison, to account for the time he has already served in jail in London. Without the plea deal, Assange faced a lengthy prison sentence of up to 170 years, The New York Times noted. But fears have proliferated about the agreement among some activists: “The United States has now, for the first time in the more than 100-year history of the Espionage Act, obtained… [a] conviction for basic journalistic acts,” David Greene, director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, told the Times.

Sour relations with Ecuador led to London imprisonment

Source icon
Source:  
The Guardian

Assange spent years in confinement, fleeing to the Ecuadorian embassy in London to seek asylum following sexual assault charges issued by Swedish authorities in 2012. But his relationship with Ecuador soured over the seven years he lived in the embassy, leading the nation to terminate his asylum status in 2019. Quito cited a list of concerns about Assange, including his propensity to skateboard indoors and worries that he was interfering with Ecuador’s relationships with other countries. Former Ecuadorian President Lenín Moreno had described Assange as “an inherited problem” and “a stone in the shoe.”

Semafor Logo
AD