Assange in plea deal talks with US – WSJ — RT World News

If negotiations succeed, the WikiLeaks founder could be released after spending a period of time in a British prison

The US Justice Department is considering whether to allow WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to plead guilty to a misdemeanor to avoid extradition to the US on espionage charges, the Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday.

The unnamed sources told the newspaper that the potential deal would result in Assange pleading guilty to mishandling classified information, with the five years he has already spent in London's Belmarsh Prison serving as his sentence.

The sources said Assange's lawyers and US officials have held preliminary talks in recent months to formulate a potential deal. But Barry Pollack, the imprisoned journalist's lawyer, told the newspaper that “No signs” The administration is ready to accept the deal.

If an agreement is reached, it will end a legal battle that has been going on for more than a decade. After being arrested by British police in 2010 on charges of sexual crimes, which he denied, Assange jumped bail in 2012 and was granted asylum at the Ecuadorian embassy in London. He was arrested again in 2019 when Ecuador revoked his asylum, and has remained in Belmarsh ever since.

The Ministry of Justice revealed an indictment against Assange on the day of his arrest, accusing him of 17 counts of espionage. If extradited to the United States and convicted, the former WikiLeaks chief faces up to 175 years in prison.

The charges stem from his publication of classified materials obtained by whistleblowers, including Pentagon documents detailing alleged US war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The British Home Office has agreed to transfer him to US custody in 2022, but Assange – now in poor health after nearly five years in solitary confinement – has made repeated appeals, none of which have been successful. Last month, the British Supreme Court postponed a decision on granting Assange a final chance to appeal his extradition.

Washington's use of the Espionage Act to prosecute Assange is controversial, as the Australian-born journalist published the classified materials in question, but did not steal them. For this very reason, former US President Barack Obama refused to press charges against Assange, arguing that his activity is no different from the activity of any newspaper, and therefore it is protected under the First Amendment to the US Constitution.

With the elections approaching next November, US President Joe Biden is keen to avoid this from happening “Political hot potato” The Wall Street Journal wrote about the arrival of a journalist extradited to Washington to face criminal prosecution. Moreover, American “Prosecutors face diminished odds that he will serve significantly more time even if convicted in the United States.” The paper noted that.

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