Assange could avoid extradition

Published 21 March 2024
- By Editorial Staff
If Assange is convicted of mishandling classified information instead of espionage, he faces a maximum of five years in prison.

According to informed sources, the US Department of Justice is considering allowing Julian Assange to plead guilty to a lesser offence instead of espionage. This could allow him to avoid extradition to the US.

In February, the WikiLeaks founder filed what is likely to be his final appeal against the court decision to extradite him to the US. Assange’s wife, Stella Assange, said she had virtually no hope that another appeal would help her husband and expressed concern that she would never see him again.

In recent months, however, negotiations have taken place between US officials and Mr Assange’s lawyers, according to the Wall Street Journal. According to the paper’s sources, the US is now considering letting him plead guilty to reckless mishandling of classified information, rather than the espionage charge he faces.

The misdemeanour carries a much lighter sentence of five years and would effectively allow Assange to participate in the trial from afar. The five years he has already served in the UK would be counted and he would be released, avoiding extradition to the US. If convicted of espionage, he could face life imprisonment.

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese pleaded for Assange’s return last February, saying he hoped the case could be “resolved amicably”.