Spread the love

Julian Assange, now free, returns to his native Australia

Wikileaks founder and whistleblower Julian Assange returned home Wednesday in Australia to enjoy his freedom found, after an agreement with the American justice system which put an end to the crime. a legal saga spanning nearly 14 years.

The private plane transporting him landed on Wednesday evening at Canberra airport, where dozens of journalists were present, an AFP team noted.

His white hair swept back, the Australian raised his fist as he emerged from the plane, then strode onto the tarmac to kiss his wife Stella, lifting her off the ground , then his father.

During a press conference, Ms. Assange later explained that her husband needed privacy and time to recover after more than five years in a high-security prison in London.

“He needs time, he needs to recover and it’s a process,” she said, sounding on the verge of tears. “I'm asking you to please give us space, give us privacy, let us find our place, let our family be family before he can speak again, at the time of his choice.”

“Julian needs to recover, that is the priority And it is a fact that Julian will always defend human rights, will defend. always the victims, because he is like that”, according to Ms. Assange.

A lawyer for Julian Assange, Jen Robinson, said the Wikileaks founder spoke to Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese when the plane landed and “told the prime minister he saved his life.”< /p>

Earlier in the day, Mr. Assange, 52, was released after a quick hearing at the US federal court in Saipan, in the Northern Mariana Islands.

Mr. Assange will not be allowed to return to the United States without authorization, the US Department of Justice said.

Julian Assange, now free, returns to his native Australia

WikiLeaks founder Julian waves on arrival at Canberra Airport, June 26, 2024 © AFP – David GRAY

Under the agreement, the former computer scientist, accused of making hundreds of thousands of confidential US documents public in the 2010s, pleaded guilty to obtaining and disclosing information about national defense.

Julian Assange, now free, returns to his native Australia

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange arrives at the Saipan Federal Court on June 26, 2024 © AFP – Yuichi YAMAZAKI

“I encouraged my source”, the American soldier Chelsea Manning, at the origin of this massive leak, “to provide material which was classified”, admitted Julian Assange on Wednesday at the bar, tired but visibly relaxed.

– “Extremely suffered” –

Julian Assange, now free, returns to his native Australia

Julian Assange leaves the federal court in Saipan, June 26, 2024 © AFP – Yuichi YAMAZAKI

He then promptly boarded a plane which left the Mariana Islands, a small American territory in the Pacific, for Canberra.

His father John Shipton, in an interview with the Australian broadcaster ABC, confided his “joy” because his son will be able to “spend quality time with his wife Stella and his two children” and savor “all the beauty of ordinary life” .

“I am grateful that my son's ordeal is finally coming to an end,” his mother Christine Assange reacted in a statement.

Julian Assange, now free, returns to his native Australia

Supporters of Julian Assange celebrate his release in front of the United States consulate in Sydney, June 26, 2024 © AFP – Saeed KHAN

Julian Assange “suffered enormously in his fight for freedom of expression, freedom of the press”, underlined Barry Pollack, his other lawyer. “The work of WikiLeaks will continue and Mr. Assange, I have no doubt, will vigorously continue his fight.”

The Australian Prime Minister, welcoming a “positive outcome” that “the vast majority of Australians wanted”, explained that secret negotiations carried out by Australian intermediaries sent to the United States had helped forge the agreement which enabled the release. “Negotiating the details of the agreement took some time,” Anthony Albanese said at a press conference. “It was the only way to resolve” the situation.

The whistleblower left the United Kingdom on Monday, where he had been imprisoned for five years, after accepting the principle of a guilty plea.

Julian Assange, now free, returns to his native Australia

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange (center) raises his fist upon arrival at Canberra Airport, June 26, 2024 © AFP – David GRAY

Under the terms of this agreement, he was only prosecuted for the sole charge of “conspiracy to obtain and disclose information relating to national defense”, for which he was sentenced to a sentence of 62 months in prison, already covered by her five years of pre-trial detention.

– Call for donations –

Ms. Assange launched an appeal for donations to pay the 520,000 dollars (485,000 euros) that her husband must reimburse the Australian government for the charter of the plane which brought him to Australia, because he was “not authorized to take a commercial flight”.

Julian Assange, now free, returns to his native Australia

Julian Assange's plane takes off from Saipan bound for Canberra, June 26, 2024 © AFP – Yuichi YAMAZAKI

The court in the Northern Mariana Islands was chosen because of Mr. Assange's refusal to travel to the American continent.

The United Nations welcomed the outcome of a case that had raised “a series of human rights concerns.”

Julian Assange, now free, returns to his native Australia

Saipan Federal Court, June 26, 2024 © AFP – Yuichi YAMAZAKI

American justice was pursuing him for having made public since 2010 more than 700,000 confidential documents on American military and diplomatic activities, particularly in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Among them, a video showing civilians, including a Reuters journalist and his driver, killed by fire from an American combat helicopter in Iraq in July 2007.

Targeted by 18 charges, Mr. Assange theoretically faced up to 175 years in prison.

Chelsea Manning, sentenced to 35 years in prison by a court martial in 2013, was released after seven years after her sentence was commuted by President Barack Obama.

Julian Assange, now free, returns to his native Australia

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange leaves the US federal court in Saipan, Northern Mariana Islands, June 26, 2024 © AFP – Yuichi YAMAZAKI

The founder of WikiLeaks was arrested by British police in April 2019, after seven years spent in the Ecuadorian embassy in London to avoid extradition to Sweden in a rape investigation, closed without following the same year.

In a first official US reaction, State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said it “does not seem appropriate to comment for now”.

All rights of reproduction and representation reserved. © (2024) Agence France-Presse

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116