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DOJ Mulling Plea Deal For Assange: WikiLeaks Founder Could Finally Walk Free

by Zero Hedge
March 20th 2024, 4:31 pm
Possible deal could end a lengthy legal saga triggered by one of the biggest classified intelligence leaks in American history.
Image Credit:
Javier Mostacero Carrera / Contributor via Getty Images
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The Biden administration might be looking for a way to bring the 14-year long legal drama centered on WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to an end. Britain’s High Court will at some point in the next weeks finally decide whether to extradite him to the United States, but a surprise breaking story from The Wall Street Journal says the US is exploring other alternatives.

The Wednesday WSJ report says, “The U.S. Justice Department is considering whether to allow Julian Assange to plead guilty to a reduced charge of mishandling classified information, according to people familiar with the matter, opening the possibility of a deal that would end a lengthy legal saga triggered by one of the biggest classified intelligence leaks in American history.”

Ever since Metropolitan Police officers were allowed into the Ecuadorian Embassy in London on April 11, 2019 – where he had been holed up for years, Assange has been in the legal fight of his life while incarcerated at Belmarsh prison. If he’s extradited he’ll likely spend life in prison at the infamous ADX Florence supermax prison in Colorado.

A plea deal means the whole crisis for him and his family could finally come to an acceptable and peaceful end after all of these years.

“Justice Department officials and Assange’s lawyers have had preliminary discussions in recent months about what a plea deal could look like, according to people familiar with the matter, a potential softening in a standoff filled with political and legal complexities,” according to details in the WSJ report. “The talks come as Assange has spent some five years behind bars and U.S. prosecutors face diminishing odds that he would serve much more time even if he were convicted stateside.”

In February of this year, Assange’s cause received a big boost when his native Australia issued formal request to the US and UK that charges against Julian Assange be dropped. The motion adopted by Australian parliament at that time emphasized “the importance of the UK and USA bringing the matter to a close so that Mr. Assange can return home to his family in Australia.”

Given Australia is a close US ally and member of the ‘Five Eyes’ intelligence group, this was a huge win for Assange. It’s very possible that this act alone may have pushed the Biden administration to take a more conciliatory stance.

However, the US deep state is still without doubt seeking revenge after years of humiliation and tens of thousands of leaked documents revealed by WikiLeaks which exposed US state secrets and sometimes war crimes. 

There are still many obstacles to overcome if such a plea deal were to ever become reality, and the clock is ticking, notes WSJ further:

The discussions remain in flux and the talks could fizzle. Any deal would require approval at the highest levels of the Justice Department. Barry Pollack, a lawyer for Assange, said he has been given no indication that the department will take a deal. A Justice Department spokesman declined to comment. 

The report details, “If prosecutors allow Assange to plead to a U.S. charge of mishandling classified documents—something his lawyers have floated as a possibility—it would be a misdemeanor offense.”

And this would be the ideal outcome for Assange and his legal team: “Under such a deal, Assange potentially could enter that plea remotely, without setting foot in the U.S. The time he has spent behind bars in London would count toward any U.S. sentence and he would likely be free to leave prison shortly after any deal was concluded.”

Let’s hope that the celebratory day comes soon where Assange can actually walk out of Belmarsh a free man.


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