Assange faces £520K flight debt after bail release

The Assange case

Published 26 June 2024
- By Editorial Staff
Julian Assange was forced to take a private flight, but had to pay for it himself.

The cost of the flight from the UK to the US island of Saipan, where the court hearings took place, was almost the equivalent of £520 000. The cost was initially covered by the Australian government, but now Assange is being forced to repay the loan.

On Tuesday, it was announced that Julian Assange had been released on bail from the high-security prison where he had been held in the UK since 2019. The release is said to have followed a deal with the US in which the Wikileaks founder will plead guilty to disclosing state secrets.

The time he spent in prison in the UK will reportedly count as time served, meaning he will be free for the first time since he fled the US after 2010, when he published the classified material.

The deal was struck Wednesday on the island of Saipan, a US territory near Australia, where Assange pleaded guilty.

– In my work as a journalist, I encouraged my source to provide information that was supposed to be classified in order to publish that information, he told the court, according to Reuters. I believed the First Amendment protected that activity but I accept that it was…a violation of the espionage statute..

Asking for donations

To get to the US island, the US required Assange to fly on a private plane, and again when he returned to Australia after the court visit. He was not allowed to fly commercially, according to his wife, Stella Assange.

The price of the flight, paid by the Australian government, was £520 000. The founder of WikiLeaks must now repay the Australian government.

WikiLeaks has now launched a fundraising campaign via Crowdfunder to help Assange repay the debt.

“We are launching an emergency appeal to seek donations to help him cover the flight debt and substantial funds to ensure his recovery and well-being and safety upon his arrival.”, it reads.

At the time of writing, around £370 000 has already been raised.

Assange is reported to have boarded a private plane back to Australia the morning after the court hearing, where his father and others are waiting for him.

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