Via a Fundamentally Devious US Plea Deal, Julian Assange Will Soon Be a Free Man

Julian Assange flying out of the UK after his release from HMP Belmarsh on June 25, 2024, in a photo made available by his wife Stella.

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In unexpected and truly heartening news, WikiLeaks’ founder Julian Assange will soon now a free man, reunited, in his home country of Australia, with his wife Stella and their two sons, Gabriel and Max (born in 2017 and 2019), who have only ever seen their father behind bars.

Assange was released from the maximum-security HMP Belmarsh in south east London, where he had spent over five years —1,901 days — in legal limbo, fighting extradition to the US to face espionage charges relating to his work as a journalist and publisher exposing US crimes and war crimes.

From Stansted Airport, he is being flown to the Northern Mariana Islands, a commonwealth of the United States, where, in exchange for his freedom, he has agreed to sign a plea deal admitting that he had “knowingly and unlawfully conspired with Chelsea Manning” to commit espionage against the United States by obtaining and disseminating classified national defence information.

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An Interview With David Hicks Following the Dismissal of His Guantánamo Conviction

A screenshot of of a news programme featuring David Hicks speaking about the dismissal of his conviction at Guantanamo for providing material support to terrorism, February 19, 2015.On February 18, David Hicks’ conviction for providing material support to terrorism was overturned by the US Court of Military Commission Review. Hicks, an Australian, had been charged in the military commissions at Guantánamo, unwisely brought back from the history books by the Bush administration, under the guidance of Dick Cheney, and his conviction came about through a plea deal in March 2007. Almost immediately repatriated, he was a free man by the end of 2007, but was haunted by his conviction and those who used it against him to portray him as some sort of terrorist, when he was no such thing.

As I explained in an article for Al-Jazeera following the ruling, this was the fourth conviction to be overturned, out of only eight cases that have resulted in convictions, and, as a result, it ought to sound the death knell for the commissions, which should never have been revived — either by the Bush administration, or, in 2009, by President Obama.

I continue to call for the commissions to be scrapped, but in the meantime, I wanted to publicize a rare interview on David Hicks’ part — with the World Socialist Web Site, conducted by Richard Phillips and published on March 5, in which, as the WSWS explained, he spoke “about the court ruling, the response of the Australian government and media, and his concerns about escalating attacks on basic democratic rights and preparations for war.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Andy Worthington

Investigative journalist, author, campaigner, commentator and public speaker. Recognized as an authority on Guantánamo and the “war on terror.” Co-founder, Close Guantánamo and We Stand With Shaker. Also, photo-journalist (The State of London), and singer and songwriter (The Four Fathers).
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