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Julian Assange leaves Britain after being released from jail: WikiLeaks


WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange arrives at court in London on May 1, 2019 to be sentenced for bail violation.  — AFP File

LONDON: Julian Assange’s organisation announced on Tuesday that he “is free” after being released from a high-security London prison where he spent five years.

His release took place after he reached a plea deal. 

The 52-year-old Australian was transferred from Belmarsh prison to London’s Stansted airport on Monday, according to a Wikileaks statement. From the airport, he boarded a flight to an undisclosed destination, it said.

Julian Assange leaves Britain after being released from jail: WikiLeaks

Stella Assange, his wife, expressed her gratitude to campaigners on Tuesday as the WikiLeaks founder was freed after five years in British custody.

“Julian is free!!!!” she wrote on the social media platform X following confirmation that he had left Belmarsh high-security prison in southeast London. “Words cannot express our immense gratitude” to everyone who had backed the global push for his release, she added.

Stella Assange met the Australian publisher while he was holed up in Ecuador’s London embassy, avoiding extradition to Sweden on sexual assault charges that were later dropped.

Assange accused of divulging US military secrets related to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, had been due back in court in London next month after winning an appeal against extradition. However, WikiLeaks announced: “Julian Assange is free. He left Belmarsh maximum security prison on the morning of June 24, after having spent 1,901 days there. He was granted bail by the High Court in London and was released at Stansted airport during the afternoon, where he boarded a plane and departed the UK.”

The media freedom group stated that sustained campaigning, from grassroots supporters to political leaders and the United Nations, “created the space for a long period of negotiations with the US Department of Justice,” leading to a deal. However, the deal “has not yet been formally finalised.”

Initially detained for skipping bail in the Swedish case, Assange was held in custody while the US extradition request made its way through court.

Assange will now reunite with his wife, whom he married at a ceremony in the prison, and their two young children. WikiLeaks emphasised, “WikiLeaks published ground-breaking stories of government corruption and human rights abuses, holding the powerful accountable for their actions. As editor-in-chief, Julian paid severely for these principles, and for the people’s right to know. As he returns to Australia, we thank all who stood by us, fought for us, and remained utterly committed in the fight for his freedom. Julian’s freedom is our freedom.”

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