WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange stops in Bangkok on his way to a US court and later freedom

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange stops in Bangkok on his way to a US court and later freedom
# 25 June 2024 14:20 (UTC +04:00)

A plane carrying Julian Assange landed Tuesday in Bangkok for refueling, as the WikiLeaks founder was on his way to enter a plea deal with the U.S. government that will free him and resolve the legal case that spanned years and continents over the publication of a trove of classified documents, AP wrote, APA reports.

Chartered flight VJT199 from London’s Stansted Airport landed after noon at Bangkok’s Don Mueang International Airport, which Assange’s wife, Stella, confirmed was carrying her husband.

Airport officials told The Associated Press the plane was scheduled to depart Tuesday evening for Saipan, the capital of the Northern Mariana Islands, a U.S. commonwealth in the Western Pacific, where he is to appear in court Wednesday morning local time.

He’s expected to plead guilty to an Espionage Act charge of conspiring to unlawfully obtain and disseminate classified national defense information, according to the U.S. Justice Department in a letter filed in court.

Assange is expected to return to his home country of Australia after his plea and sentencing. The hearing is taking place in Saipan because of Assange’s opposition to traveling to the continental U.S. and the court’s proximity to Australia, prosecutors said.

The guilty plea, which must be approved by a judge, brings an abrupt conclusion to a criminal case of international intrigue and to the U.S. government’s yearslong pursuit of a publisher whose hugely popular secret-sharing website made him a cause célèbre among many press freedom advocates who said he acted as a journalist to expose U.S. military wrongdoing. Investigators, in contrast, have repeatedly asserted that his actions broke laws meant to protect sensitive information and put the country’s national security at risk.

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