Could Assange's 14-Year Legal Saga Be Drawing to a Close?

Sources say the US is considering a plea deal that could see him released soon
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 21, 2024 2:00 AM CDT
Could Assange's 14-Year Legal Saga Be Drawing to a Close?
People demonstrate to support Julian Assange, Tuesday , Feb.20, 2024 in Paris.   (AP Photo/Thomas Padilla)

Julian Assange has been battling with the US since 2010, when his WikiLeaks published thousands of confidential US military and diplomatic documents. But sources tell the Wall Street Journal the US Department of Justice is considering bringing the whole thing to an end with a plea deal. Assange has been jailed in the UK since 2019, fighting extradition to the US to face charges filed against him that year, and sources say the deal would see the 18 charges he currently faces under the Espionage Act dropped in exchange for Assange pleading guilty to a reduced charge of mishandling classified information, a misdemeanor, the Guardian reports. He could potentially do that from London, and would likely be released shortly thereafter, sources say.

Sources say Assange's lawyers have been in touch with the Justice Department about the idea, but the official word from Assange's legal team is that they have received no indication of any change in the prosecution strategy. Per the Journal, not only are the talks very much in "flux" and subject to "fizzling" out, any plan would also need to be approved at the DOJ's highest levels if prosecutors do decide to move forward with a possible deal. Currently, Assange is awaiting a decision from Britain's High Court on whether he can further appeal his extradition; if he is ruled against, his final option would be the European court of human rights. (More Julian Assange stories.)

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