Julian Assange Takes US Justice Department Deal, Avoids Additional Jail Time

The plea deal still has to be approved by a federal judge

Julian Assange
Julian Assange (CREDIT: Jack Taylor/Getty Images)

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has struck a deal with the United States Department of Justice to avoid additional jail time, according to court documents released Monday.

A letter from the U.S. Department of Justice’s National Security Division obtained by NBC News noted that Assange is expected to enter a guilty plea on Wednesday at 9 a.m. After being allowed to enter his guilty plea in England rather than on U.S. soil, the letter states, “we expect he will return at the conclusion of the proceedings… to the defendant’s country of citizenship, Australia.”

Assange has been imprisoned in London since April 2019 while the U.S. sought his extradition. The newly struck deal requires him to plead guilty to a felony, but the 62-month sentences will apply to the time he has already served in the United Kingdom.

He was originally charged with 18 counts for publishing confidential military records supplied by former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning in 2010 and 2011. U.S. officials have said that releasing this information endangered American lives.

American officials alleged that Assange persuaded Manning to obtain classified details about the Iraq War and detainees at Guantanamo Bay.

In May, Assange won the right to appeal his extradition to the U.S. after his lawyers argued there were “blatantly inadequate” assurances from U.S. authorities that he would have the same free-speech protections as an American citizen in domestic courts, according to the Associated Press.

Assange was not present at the May hearing for health reasons. His family said that his many years in exile and captivity have taken their toll on the 52-year-old’s mind and body.

Prior to being jailed, Assange spent seven years in hiding at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.

CNN first reported this story.


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