TALK THREAD: Assange Gets a Plea Deal

Image source - Wikileaks

Late last night it was suddenly reported that after five years in Belmarsh Prison – and seven years essentially under house arrest in the Ecuadorian embassy – Julian Assange was pleading guilty as part a deal to secure his release.

The reported terms of the deal are that Assange will plead guilty to an infringement of the US Espionage Act, in return for a five year time-served sentence and the freedom to return home to Australia.

A plane carrying Assange reported left the UK late last night, bound for the US protectorate of the Northern Mariana Islands in the Pacific. After a hearing there, he will be flying to Australia.

Although  his family/team have posted photos and video to social media, Assange has yet to make a public comment.

A potential plea deal looked on the cards when the mainstream attitude to Assange notably softened last month. It’s middle-ground between the outright conviction and much-talked-about pardon (although a pardon is still possible, even with a plea deal, and Stella Assange told the media they intend to pursue one.).

If all is as it appears, and Assange is indeed being freed after 12 years of confinement without conviction, that is a deserved victory for Assange and his family.

The question is, is it a victory in principle for free speech? After all, he has not been declared innocent. The plea deal still admits to wrong-doing, and still sets the precedent of convicting journalists and publishers simply for reporting facts.

That’s a bad precedent. Another in a line of bad precedents the Assange case has been used to push – from detention without trial to trials in absentia.

Whatever happens it will be interesting to see the story develop, and to see what role – if any – Julian Assange will look to take in the alt-media landscape moving forward.

But what do you think? Feel free to discuss  in the comments below.

  • Is this a victory for free speech? The establishment? Or neither?
  • Will they genuinely let Assange go or is there another twist coming?
  • If released will he return to public life or quietly retire?
  • Is there still a chance at an official pardon? If so, from whom?


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