Julian Assange lands in Australia a free man

Julian Assange lands in Australia a free man

Julian Assange has landed back home in his native Australia, after a plea deal allowed him to walk free from a London prison.


There were emotional scenes at Canberra Airport, as the Wikileaks founder kissed his wife and hugged his father, his lawyers watching on, visibly moved.

"Julian needs time to recover, to get used to freedom," Stella Assange said at a news conference shortly after her husband arrived.

For the past 14 years, Assange has been in a legal battle with US officials who accused him of leaking classified documents, which they say put lives in danger.

The 52-year-old did not attend the news conference in Canberra, instead letting his lawyer and wife speak for him.

"You have to understand what he's been through," Mrs Assange said, adding that they need time to "let our family be a family".

The couple married in London's Belmarsh prison in 2022, and have two children together.

The plea deal saw Julian Assange plead guilty to one charge of conspiracy to obtain and disclose national defence information, rather than the 18 he was originally facing.

The case centred around a massive Wikileaks disclosure in 2010 when the website released a video from a US military helicopter which showed civilians being killed in the Iraqi capital Baghdad.

It also published thousands of confidential documents suggesting that the US military had killed hundreds of civilians in unreported incidents during the war in Afghanistan.

The revelations became a huge story, prompting reaction from all corners of the globe, and led to intense scrutiny of American involvement in foreign conflicts.

Assange formally entered the charge on the remote Northern Mariana Islands, an American territory in the Pacific, two days after leaving Belmarsh prison.

In return, he was sentenced to time already served and released to fly home.

His lawyer, Jen Robinson, told media that the deal was "criminalisation of journalism" and set a "dangerous precedent".

Echoing this, Mrs Assange said she hopes the media "realise the danger of this" conviction for "newsgathering and publishing information that was in the public interest".

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