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Julian Assange is now free to do or say whatever he likes. What does his future hold?

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — He has run for office, published hundreds of thousands of leaked government documents online, and once lobbied to save his local swimming pool. One of the most polarizing and influential figures of the information age, Julian Assange is now free after five years in a British prison and seven years in self-imposed exile in a London embassy.

What’s next for the WikiLeaks founder remains unclear.

Assange, 52, landed in his homeland of Australia this week after pleading guilty to obtaining and publishing U.S. military secrets in a deal with Justice Department prosecutors that put an end to an attempt to extradite him to the United States. That could have resulted in a lengthy prison sentence in the event of conviction.

“Julian plans to swim in the ocean every day. He plans to sleep in a real bed. He plans to taste real food, and he plans to enjoy his freedom,” his wife, Stella Assange, told reporters Thursday at a news conference that Assange did not attend.

Her husband and the father of her two children would continue to “defend human rights and speak out against injustice,” she said. “He can choose how he does that because he is a free man.”

Assange himself has given no clues.

Will he “switch off”?

All friends and acquaintances of Assange interviewed by The Associated Press this week emphasized that they did not know his future plans and underscored the toll taken by his ordeal — in prison he spent 23 hours a day in solitary confinement, following years in self-exile inside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.

“I just want him to survive this ordeal and be happy. I don’t care what Julian does next,” said Andrew Wilkie, an Independent Australian lawmaker who met Assange before the hacker launched