WikiLeaks’ Work to Continue, Assange Has ‘Powerful Voice That Cannot Be Silenced,’ Lawyer Says


MOSCOW (Sputnik) – In April 2019, Australian WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was transported to London’s Belmarsh jail for bail breach. He was prosecuted under the Espionage Act in the US for leaking sensitive information on US army war crimes and human rights abuses in Iraq and Afghanistan.
WikiLeaks will continue its work, and Assange will continue to be a “force for the freedom of speech and transparency,” Barry Pollack, criminal defense lawyer for Assange, said on Wednesday after the court hearing.
“WikiLeaks’ work will continue, and Mr. Assange, I have no doubt, will be a continuing force for the freedom of speech and transparency in government. He has a powerful voice, and the voice that cannot and should not be silenced,” Pollack told journalists.
Assange’s lawyer added that “the court today determined that no harm was caused by Mr. Assange’s publications.”
Jennifer Robinson, Assange’s legal counselor, told journalists that “today is a historic day,” which brings “the end to the 14 years of legal battles.”
She thanked the Australian people and the Australian government for supporting Assange and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese for “his statesmanship, his principled leadership and his diplomacy that made this outcome possible.” She also thanked Australian Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus, Foreign Minister Penny Wong, Ambassador to the United States and former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and UK High Commissioner in London Steven Smith for their diplomatic approach and help in Assange’s case.
Assange has already left the courtroom in the Northern Mariana Islands after reaching a plea deal with the federal prosecutors. He was met outside with applause and cheering, according to a live broadcast from the site. He did not make statements to the press.
Release of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange in the Northern Mariana Islands – Sputnik Africa, 1920, 26.06.2024
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Earlier on Wednesday, a US judge sentenced Assange to time served and will not impose any period of supervised release after he pled guilty to one charge of conspiring to unlawfully obtain and disseminate classified information relating to the national defense of the United States, The Guardian’s journalist reported from the courtroom.
She cited a federal prosecutor as saying that US barristers in the United Kingdom are “forthwith” withdrawing their extradition request for Assange, the report added.
The US will next take steps to immediately overturn remaining charges against Assange in the Eastern District of Virginia, the report said.
In the courtroom on Wednesday, Assange said that the US first amendment that guarantees the freedom of speech and press contradicts the espionage act.
“Working as a journalist, I encouraged my source to provide information that was said to be classified in order to publish that information … I believed the first amendment protected that activity but I accept that it was … a violation of the espionage statute,” he was quoted by The Guardian as saying to the court, when requested to explain what he was pleading guilty of.
The US is trying to limit free speech at all levels, Assange’s UK lawyer told reporters following the hearing.
“The US is seeking to exercise extraterritorial jurisdiction over all of you without giving you constitutional free speech protections. And anyone who cares about free speech and democratic accountability should stand against it,” Robinson said.
She encouraged everyone to continue the fight for Assange’s rights, as well as for all other victims of journalist prosecution to secure their freedom too.
Assange’s US attorney said the WikiLeaks founder “suffered tremendously” in his fight for free speech.
“Mr. Assange revealed truthful important and newsworthy information including revealing that the United States had committed war crimes. And he has suffered tremendously in his fight for free speech, for freedom of the press and to ensure that the American public and the world community gets truthful and important newsworthy information,” Pollack told reporters.
Assange should not have been charged on the espionage act as he was involved in the activities that journalists do on the daily basis, Pollack said.
No one will give back the years of Assange’s struggle and persecution, former Ecuadorian Consul in London Fidel Narvaez told Sputnik later in the day, adding that Washington had been persecuting Assange for 14 years, while the final agreement covers only five years he spent in the UK prison.
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Specialized UN institutions have to investigate human rights abuse in the case of Julian Assange, former Bolivian Foreign Minister Diego Pary told Sputnik.
“Undoubtedly, it will be important that specialized UN institutions on human rights carried out an investigation on abuse of [Assange’s] basic rights in prison, as well as violation of international agreements which took place during [Assange’s] presence in the Ecuadorian embassy,” Pary said.
Assange’s plea deal with the US Department of Justice might have been organized in effort to “protect sources and methods” that may be disclosed during the court trial, former Central Intelligence Agency Chief Larry Pfeiffer told ABC.
Meanwhile, Assange’s legal adviser, Greg Barns, said that pleading guilty to one criminal charge was much less important than the general result.
Earlier in the day, the WikiLeaks founder’s wife, Stella Assange, said that the judge’s final sentencing remarks had brought “this baseless smear” to an end.

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By Naija247news
By Naija247news
Naija247news is an investigative news platform that tracks news on Nigerian Economy, Business, Politics, Financial and Africa and Global Economy.

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