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Julian Assange released from prison after reaching agreement with Department of State

The founder of WikiLeaks spent the last few years in a U.K. prison. He will plead guilty to conspiracy in federal court this Tuesday.

The founder of WikiLeaks, Julian AssangePA / Cordon Press

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange regained his freedom after he reached a plea deal with the U.S. Justice Department on a conspiracy charge, various media outlets reported citing court documents.

The decision will allow the activist to walk free after spending five years in a U.K. prison following an intense legal battle with the U.S. government.

According to various reports, Assange is expected to plead guilty to violating the Espionage Act and receive credit for the time he spent behind bars in the United Kingdom while fighting extradition to the United States.

The NBC News reported that Assange was charged with conspiracy to obtain and disclose national defense information. The WikiLeaks founder was also charged through a criminal information - which typically means a plea deal.

In a powerful image spread through social media, Julian Assange could be seen getting on a plane at London Stansted Airport after a London court granted him bail while he finishes his proceedings with the United States.

“Julian Assange is free. He left Belmarsh maximum security prison on the morning of 24 June, after having spent 1901 days there. He was granted bail by the High Court in London and was released at Stansted airport during the afternoon, where he boarded a plane and departed the U.K.," reported the WikiLeaks account on X. The account suggested that the activist will return to his native country, Australia. “Julian's freedom is our freedom.”

Assange is expected to plead guilty this week during a hearing in a U.S. federal court in the Northern Mariana Islands, a commonwealth of the country.

A letter from DOJ official Matthew McKenzie to Judge Ramona Manglona of the U.S. District Court for the Northern Mariana Islands,notes that Assange will appear in court at 9 a.m. local time Wednesday(or, 7 p.m. ET Tuesday) to plead guilty.

The letter notes that the DOJ also expects Assange to return to Australia after the proceedings. That, a priori, would bring the court proceedings and a years-long legal battle to a close.

Assange v. United States background

Julian Assange's legal history against the U.S. government is already long-standing.

The DOJ's charges against Assange stem from one of the largest leaks of classified information in the country's history, which took place during former President Barack Obama's first term in office.

According to the U.S. indictment, Assange conspired in late 2009 with military intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to release hundreds of thousands of classified reports on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq on the WikiLeaks website. Tens of thousands of important State Department cables and hundreds of documents and assessments of prisoners at the maximum-security prison located at theGuantanamo naval base were also leaked.

Because of these allegations, the last decade for Assange has been extremely complex.He spent five years held in the high-security Belmarsh prison outside London, and was previously in exile in Ecuador's embassy in London for seven years.

Assange had his asylum withdrawn and was forcibly removed from the embassy and arrested in April 2019. Since then, he fought the U.S. to prevent his deportation. Now, with this plea bargain, he regained his freedom after a long struggle that generated a whole global movement for his acquittal.