WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange arrives in US territory of Saipan Island

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange arrives in US territory of Saipan Island

Assange expected to formalize plea deal

By Servet Gunerigok

WASHINGTON (AA) - WikiLeaks said Tuesday that its founder, Julian Assange, has arrived on the US territory of Saipan Island for his court hearing.

"Julian Assange has arrived on US territory at Saipan Island to formalise the plea deal that should never have had to happen," WikiLeaks wrote X.

Assange was released Monday from the Belmarsh maximum security prison following bail, by the High Court in London before boarding a flight at Stansted Airport at 5 p.m. local time.

Court documents indicate that Assange is set to appear Wednesday at the US District Court in the Mariana Islands, a US commonwealth in the Western Pacific Ocean near his native Australia.

A judge on the island of Saipan is set to hear the case at 9 a.m. local time and sentencing proceedings are expected to be concluded within hours.

Assange is expected to plead guilty to a single count of violating the US Espionage Act, specifically, that he conspired to unlawfully obtain and disclose US national security information.

The plane carrying Assange landed Tuesday at the Don Mueang International Airport in the Thai capital of Bangkok to refuel, before heading to Saipan.

Assange rose to fame in the 2010s for leaking classified US documents on the internet, gaining him international accolades and detractors when he exposed sensitive American diplomatic correspondence and military records, including video of a 2007 US airstrike in Baghdad that killed several people, including two Reuters journalists.

Assange has doggedly opposed extradition to the US and spent seven years in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London in a bid to prevent the handover.

He was ejected from the diplomatic compound in 2019 and has spent the last five years in a British prison as he fought an extradition order to the US.

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