Wikileaks: Julian Assange is free, he has left the UK

Assange is expected to be sentenced to 62 months in prison, with credit for the five years he has already served in prison in Britain. This means he can return to his native Australia.

Julian Assange is "free" and out of a maximum-security London prison where he was held for five years, his organization Wikileaks said, after reaching a plea deal with US prosecutors.

According to court documents, Assange has agreed to plead guilty in a US court to revealing military secrets in exchange for his freedom, ending his years-long legal drama.

Assange, who was detained in Britain, will plead guilty to a single count of conspiracy to obtain and disseminate national defense information, according to the document filed in court in the Northern Mariana Islands, a US territory in the Pacific Ocean.

Assange is expected to be sentenced to 62 months in prison, with credit for the five years he has already served in prison in Britain. This means he can return to his native Australia.

The publisher, now 52, ​​has been wanted by Washington for publishing hundreds of thousands of classified US documents since 2010 as head of whistleblower website WikiLeaks.

During his trial, Assange became a hero to free-speech advocates around the world and a villain to those who believed he had endangered US national security and intelligence sources by revealing his secrets.

US authorities wanted to put Assange on trial for revealing US military secrets about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

This plea agreement is likely to end Assange's nearly 14-year legal drama.

The plea agreement was not entirely unexpected. President Joe Biden has come under increasing pressure to drop the long-running case against Assange.

In February, the Australian government made a formal request to that effect and Biden said he would consider it, raising hopes among Assange's supporters that his trial could be over.

Julian Assange's wife Stella has thanked activists for their support after the WikiLeaks founder was freed after five years in British custody.

"Julian is free!!!!" she wrote on X after it was confirmed he had left Belmarsh maximum security prison in south-east London.

"Words cannot express our immense gratitude" to all those who supported the global push for his release, she added.

Stella Assange met the Australian publisher while he was holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London to avoid extradition to Sweden on sexual assault charges that were later dropped.

But a WikiLeaks statement said: "Julian Assange is free. He left Belmarsh maximum security prison on the morning of June 24 after spending 1,901 days there.

"The High Court in London granted him bail and in the afternoon he was released to Stansted Airport where he boarded a plane and left the UK."

The media freedom group said sustained campaigning by grassroots supporters, political leaders and the United Nations "set the stage for a lengthy period of negotiations with the US Department of Justice" that led to the settlement.

The organization said the deal "has not yet been officially finalized."

Assange was initially held for missing bail in connection with the Swedish case and was held in custody while a US extradition request went through the courts.

He will now be reunited with his wife, whom he married in a prison ceremony, and their two young children, she added.

WikiLeaks publishes groundbreaking stories about government corruption and human rights abuses, holding those in power accountable for their actions," the statement said.

"As editor-in-chief, Julian paid dearly for these principles and for people's right to know.

"As he returns to Australia, we thank everyone who stood by us, fought for us and remained fully committed to the fight for his freedom. Julian's freedom is our freedom."| BGNES