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Julian Assange admits leaking US state secrets, walks free. Next stop: Australia

The plea is part of an agreement that is expected to free Assange to return to his native Australia within hours.

“Regardless of your views about Mr Assange, his case has dragged on for too long. There is nothing to be gained from his continued incarceration and we want him brought home to Australia,” Albanese said.

Assange pleading guilty to leaking US national security secrets ends a 14-year legal drama that has seen him spend time in UK jails and self-imposed exile in a London embassy.

The plea deal resolves an international fight to prosecute Assange that has been under way since sensitive US military documents, war logs and diplomatic cables were publicly leaked in 2010 and 2011, including footage of a US air strike in Baghdad a few years earlier.

While Assange will avoid a lengthy prison sentence – the plea deal gives him credit for the five years he spent a high-security UK prison as he fought extradition to the US – WikiLeaks is raising funds on his behalf to cover what it says is an additional “half a million US dollars” he must pay.

In one of the largest breaches of state secrets in US history, Assange was accused of assisting Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning in obtaining around 750,000 classified or sensitive documents. Manning was convicted of leaking classified material in 2013, but then-President Barack Obama commuted her 35-year prison sentence in 2017.

Assange and Manning unlawfully conspired “to receive and obtain documents, writings, and notes connected with the national defence, including such materials classified up to the SECRET level,” according to a four-page filing by the Justice Department.


WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to be freed after US plea deal

The leaks and an unrelated Swedish