29 C
Colombo
Friday, July 19, 2024

Julian Assange Heads to US Court on Pacific island after Plea Deal

- Advertisement -

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is due to appear in a US court on Wednesday, where he will formalise a plea deal and leave a free man following a 14-year legal battle.

Mr Assange is expected to arrive in the Northern Mariana Islands, an American territory in the Pacific. On Tuesday, he left a British prison and flew to the Thai capital Bangkok for refuelling.

US officials were pursuing Mr Assange, 52, over charges related to a huge disclosure of secret files in 2010, which they said put lives in danger.

Reacting to the deal – which will see Mr Assange plead guilty to one charge – his wife Stella told the BBC she was “elated”.

As part of his lengthy legal marathon, Mr Assange has spent the last five years behind bars in the UK, resisting American attempts to extradite him.

He also faced separate charges of rape and sexual assault in Sweden, which he denied. He spent seven years hiding in Ecuador’s London embassy, claiming the Swedish case would lead him to be sent to the US.

Swedish authorities dropped the case in 2019 and said that too much time had passed since the original complaint, but UK authorities later took him into custody. He was tried for not surrendering to the courts to be extradited to Sweden.

In the US, Mr Assange was charged with conspiracy to obtain and disclose national defence information, following the massive Wikileaks disclosure in 2010.

Wikileaks had released a video from a US military helicopter which showed civilians being killed in the Iraqi capital Baghdad.

It also published thousands of confidential documents suggesting that the US military had killed hundreds of civilians in unreported incidents during the war in Afghanistan.

The revelations became a huge story, prompting reaction from all corners of the globe, and led to intense scrutiny of American involvement in foreign conflicts.

The Northern Mariana Islands, where Mr Assange’s plea deal is expected to be made official, is a remote Pacific archipelago and US commonwealth. It is much closer to Australia than US federal courts in Hawaii or the continental US.

In exchange for pleading guilty to a single charge under the Espionage Act, Mr Assange will spend no time in US custody and will receive credit for the time spent incarcerated in the UK.

He will ultimately return to Australia, according to a letter from the US justice department. (BBC)

RECENT ARTICLES

Chinese traveler from Colombo found infected with COVID-19 on arrival at Shanghai

0
A Chinese national who arrived from Sri Lanka has been infected with COVID-19, Shanghai (China) Health Commission said on Thursday morning.  According to Chinese media,...

Another 160 Omicron cases detected in Sri Lanka

0
Another 160 cases of Omicron COVID variant have been recorded in Sri Lanka, Dr. Chandima Jeewandara from University of Sri Jayewardenepura said. According to Dr....

PM visits Tirupati

0
Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa has left for India on a 2-day pilgrimage to the temple city of Tirupati today (23). He was accorded a warm...

POPULAR ARTICLES

Mother Arrested Death of 4-Year-Old Daughter

0
A woman who was behind the death of her 4-year-old daughter found in a well in Yatiyanthota on Wednesday, arrested. The Ruwanwella Police received information...

SC Concludes Hearing on Petitions Against Deshabandu, Decision Expected 24 July

0
The Supreme Court has concluded its consideration of the Fundamental Rights (FR) petitions challenging the appointment of Deshabandu Tennakoon as Inspector General of Police...

Justice Minister Halts Gazetting of 22nd Amendment Bill

0
Minister of Justice Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe has directed the Secretary of the Justice Ministry to suspend the gazetting of the 22nd Amendment to the Constitution...