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Assange and the US Department of Justice
may be close to reaching an
agreement on a reduced guilty plea.

Richard Krauss

25. Juni 2024

Expectation of guilty plea
could end long-running
legal battle

Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, is about to reach what could be a crucial turning point in his long-running legal battle with the United States. According to recent reports, the US Department of Justice is in talks about a deal that would allow Assange to plead guilty without facing a prison sentence in the US.

These developments mark a significant moment in a legal battle sparked by WikiLeaks' release of hundreds of thousands of classified documents in 2010.

The potential deal involves Assange pleading guilty to a reduced charge of improper handling of classified information. This move would allow him to enter the guilty plea via video link from the UK and avoid extradition to the US.

Such negotiations are typically complex and the current discussion is still ongoing. It remains uncertain whether a final agreement can be reached. Assange's lawyer has already signaled that there has been no concrete commitment from the US Department of Justice so far and that the United States remains committed to securing his extradition.

This case has attracted worldwide attention and sparked a debate about the limits of press freedom and the role of whistleblowers. Various human rights organizations and political leaders have come out in support of Assange, arguing that his actions should fall under the protection of journalistic freedom.

Wikileaks Affair

The WikiLeaks affair began in 2006, when Australian activist and computer programmer Julian Assange founded the platform dedicated to publishing secret and sensitive information. WikiLeaks aimed to promote transparency and expose abuses. In 2010, the platform gained international attention when it published numerous secret US government documents, including details of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and diplomatic cables.

The most significant publications include the video "Collateral Murder", which shows the killing of civilians by a US attack helicopter in Iraq, and the so-called "Afghanistan War Logs" and "Iraq War Logs", which contained tens of thousands of secret documents on US warfare. These publications revealed, among other things, civilian casualties and covert CIA operations.

Chelsea Manning, a former US Army analyst who passed a large number of secret documents to WikiLeaks, also played a central role. Manning was arrested in 2010 and later sentenced to a long prison term before her sentence was commuted by President Barack Obama in 2017.

Assange himself is facing criminal prosecution in several countries. In the US, he is charged with conspiracy to commit computer crime and the illegal acquisition and publication of classified information. In the UK, Assange was arrested in 2019 after seven years of seeking refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in London to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he was accused of sexual assault. The Swedish investigation has since been closed, but the US continues to demand his extradition.

Other significant WikiLeaks releases include the "Diplomatic Cables," a collection of some 250,000 diplomatic cables from the US State Department, and the "Guantanamo Files," which contained details of those detained at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp. In 2012, WikiLeaks published the "US Democratic Party," over two million emails from Syrian political leaders and businesses that offered insight into Syria's political and economic structure during the civil war.

In 2016, the DNC emails caused a stir, exposing internal communications of the US Democratic Party during the presidential election campaign. These releases sparked controversy over the influence on the election campaign and the resignation of several DNC officials. This was followed in 2017 by "Vault 7," a collection of documents that revealed the CIA's hacking capabilities.

These releases had a profound impact on global politics, public opinion, and the debate over transparency and security. While Assange and his supporters argue that WikiLeaks plays an important role in exposing government and corporate abuses, opponents accuse him of endangering national security and putting the lives of whistleblowers at risk.

Sources: International news agencies and public broadcasters

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