WikiLeaks founder walks free after US guilty plea

The founder of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, has pleaded guilty to violating US espionage law. A court ruled that because Assange had already spent over five years in a UK prison, he did not need to serve additional time. It allowed him to return to his native Australia.

US authorities indicted Assange for his involvement in illegally accessing confidential US government records and publishing them on the internet, among other charges. He has been imprisoned in the UK since 2019 for a separate incident.

Assange left Britain and attended a hearing at a federal court in Saipan in the Northern Mariana Islands on Wednesday.

Reuters news agency reported that while he pleaded guilty to the charge, he said he believes that the US Constitution's First Amendment protects his activities as a journalist.

The court accepted his plea and sentenced him to time already served in Britain.

During his imprisonment in the UK, Assange was fighting an extradition request from the United States.

The decision of the court in Saipan is believed to have been reached through a plea bargain between Assange and the US Justice Department.