Julian Assange will not be extradited to the US after reaching plea deal

US

US authorities have agreed to drop their demand for Julian Assange to be extradited from the UK after reaching a plea deal with the WikiLeaks founder.

In return for pleading guilty to one count of conspiracy to obtain and disclose national defence information, Assange will be sentenced to time served, 62 months – the time he has already spent in a British prison.

Once the guilty plea is accepted by a judge, the 52-year-old will be free to return to Australia, the country of his birth.

American prosecutors had alleged that Assange put lives at risk when he helped former US army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning steal diplomatic cables and military files that WikiLeaks put online in 2010.

He then spent years hiding out in the Ecuadorian embassy before his arrest in May 2019.

He has since been held at Belmarsh maximum security prison in south London.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in a police van after being arrested in London in 2019. Pic: Reuters
Image:
Assange in a police van after being arrested in London in 2019. Pic: Reuters

Assange is expected to return to Australia after his plea and sentencing, which is scheduled for Wednesday morning, local time in Saipan, the largest island in the Mariana Islands.

The hearing is taking place there because of Assange’s opposition to travelling to one of the 49 US states and the court’s proximity to Australia.

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