close
Wednesday July 24, 2024

Julian Assange freed after five years in London prison: Wikileaks

Julian Assange is free, his wife wrote on social media and confirmed that he has left Britain

By Web Desk
June 25, 2024
Vehicles drive past a giant billboard calling for the release of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in Melbourne on September 5, 2023. — AFP File
Vehicles drive past a giant billboard calling for the release of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in Melbourne on September 5, 2023. — AFP File 

LONDON: Julian Assange "is free" and has been released from a high-security London prison where he was held for five years, his Wikileaks organisation said Tuesday, after reaching a US plea deal.

The 52-year-old Australian was taken Monday from Belmarsh prison to London's Stansted airport, a Wikileaks statement said, from where he boarded a flight to an unnamed destination.

Julian Assange's wife, Stella, expressed her gratitude to campaigners on Tuesday following the WikiLeaks founder's release after five years in British custody.

Julian Assange freed after five years in London prison: Wikileaks

"Julian is free!!!!" she wrote on the social media platform X, confirming that he had left Belmarsh high-security prison in southeast London. Stella Assange, who met the Australian publisher while he was holed up in Ecuador's London embassy, added, "Words cannot express our immense gratitude" to everyone who had backed the global push for his release.

Assange was initially detained for skipping bail in relation to Swedish sexual assault charges, which were later dropped. He had been held in custody as a US extradition request wound its way through the courts. Accused of divulging US military secrets related to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, Assange had been due back in court in London next month after winning an appeal against extradition.

WikiLeaks confirmed in a statement that Assange "is free," having left Belmarsh maximum security prison on the morning of June 24 after spending 1,901 days there. "He was granted bail by the High Court in London and was released at Stansted airport during the afternoon, where he boarded a plane and departed the UK."

The media freedom group highlighted the impact of sustained campaigning from grassroots supporters, political leaders, and the United Nations. This support "created the space for a long period of negotiations with the US Department of Justice," leading to a deal. However, the organisation noted that the deal "has not yet been formally finalised."

Assange will now be reunited with his wife, whom he married at a ceremony in the prison, and their two young children. WikiLeaks praised Assange's contributions, stating, "WikiLeaks published ground-breaking stories of government corruption and human rights abuses, holding the powerful accountable for their actions. As editor-in-chief, Julian paid severely for these principles, and for the people’s right to know."

The statement concluded, "As he returns to Australia, we thank all who stood by us, fought for us, and remained utterly committed in the fight for his freedom. Julian’s freedom is our freedom."