Julian Assange landed in Australia as a free man: the hug with his wife


By John

The plane carrying Julian Assange has landed in Canberra, Australia. His wife Stella and family were waiting for him at the airport, the Guardian reports. Before going down the stairs of the plane, Assange raised his fist and greeted the waiting journalists. International media reports. Those present shouted “welcome home” and applauded. The founder of Wikileaks, finally free, hugged his wife, holding her in the air before giving her a big kiss.

“Julian wanted me to sincerely thank you all,” Stella Assange said. “He wanted to be here. But you have to understand what he has been through. He needs time. He needs to recover. I ask you, please, to give us space, to give us privacy to find our place.” “He has to get used to freedom. Someone yesterday who went through something similar told me that freedom comes slowly. And I want Julian to have that space to rediscover freedom, slowly,” she added.

Who is Julian Assange?

With the ruling of the Court of Saipan, an island in the Mariana Islands, which accepted the plea bargain with the US in exchange for the admission of guilt, the case was closed today Assange. A legal affair “that has dragged on for too long”, as a spokesperson for the Australian government said, commenting on the news that arrived yesterday of the agreement reached with the US Department of Justice on the founder of WikiLeaks.

The beginning of the story

It is in 2010, in fact, that Julian Paul Assange – Hawkins, born in Townsville, the Australian city where he was born on 3 July 1971 – has gained wide international notoriety for having revealed secret US documents received from the former military Chelsea Manning, concerning war crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq, causing national security problems for the United States, according to the US Department of Justice.

Consequences of publication

A publication that earned him several accolades and honors (including the Sam Adams Award, the Gold Medal for Peace with Justice from the Sydney Peace Foundation and the Martha Gellhorn Award for Journalism), even the proposal of a Nobel Peace Prize, but also a series of problems with American justice and beyond. The huge series of cables showed that Washington had spied on the UN leadership and that Saudi Arabia had pressured the United States to attack Iran.

The arrest warrant in Sweden

In November of the same year, a Swedish prosecutor issued an arrest warrant for Assange for sexual assault allegations involving two women. Assange denied the charges, claiming consensual sexual intercourse, but was arrested after presenting himself to the London police. A week later he was released on bail.

Detention at Belmarsh and request for extradition

As of April 11, 2019, Assange was in prison in Belmarshin the UK, first for breaching the terms of his bail following controversial rape charges in Sweden (formalised in 2010 and dismissed in 2017), and then in relation to an application for extradition brought by the United States of America on charges of conspiracy. Assange appealed, arguing that the Swedish charges were merely a pretext to transfer him to the United States to face the WikiLeaks charges.

Refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy

In June 2012 he took refuge in the embassy ofEcuador in London. Ecuador, then governed by leftist President Rafael Correa, granted him asylum. In December, Ecuador granted Assange nationality but Britain blocked it from granting him diplomatic status. In January 2018, Ecuador, now governed by conservative President Lenin Moreno, said hosting Assange had become “unsustainable.”

Revocation of citizenship and arrest

Tensions peaked in April 2019 when Moreno said Assange had “repeatedly violated” the conditions of his asylum and revoked his citizenship. The next day, the British police drag Assange outside the embassy and arrests him on a U.S. extradition request. In May, he is sentenced to 50 weeks in prison for violating bail in 2010. The legal process for his extradition to the United States begins.

Allegations of violations of the Espionage Act

In May 2019, the US Department of Justice accuses Assange of violating theEspionage Act by publishing military and diplomatic documents in 2010. If convicted, he faces up to 175 years in prison. Assange makes his first court appearance since being jailed via video link.

Protests and calls for release

The detention and charges have sparked strong protests around the world and calls for his release from public opinion and various human rights organisations, leading to the intervention of the rapporteur UN on torture in November 2019, also endorsed by the Council of Europe.

Recent judicial developments

On 5 January 2021, the English justice system denied the extradition of Assange for medical reasons, specifically for the sake of his mental health, as there was a high risk of suicidal tendencies. On 10 December 2021, the High Court in London overturned the ruling denying extradition. A further step towards Assange’s surrender to the American courts took place on March 14, 2022: the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom rejected the appeal presented by the Australian’s lawyers, leaving the final decision to the Interior Minister Patel. On 21 April 2022, Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London issued the formal extradition order to the USA.