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Australian PM welcomes news of WikiLeaks founder Assange's release

Xinhua | Updated: 2024-06-25 17:34

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange looks out a plane window as he approaches Bangkok airport for layover, according to the post by Wikileaks on X, in this picture released to social media on June 25, 2024. [Photo/Agencies]

CANBERRA -- Australia's Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has welcomed the news that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is set to be released by US authorities.

Assange, 52, on Tuesday agreed to plead guilty to U.S. espionage charges in a deal that ended his imprisonment in the United Kingdom (UK), allowing him to return to Australia pending court proceedings in Saipan on Wednesday.

Speaking in parliament on Tuesday, Albanese welcomed the news and said he plans to speak more once the legal process is complete.

"While this is a welcome development we recognize these proceedings are crucial and delicate," he said.

"We have engaged and advocated Australia's interest using all appropriate channels to support a positive outcome and I have done that since very early on in my prime ministership."

He reiterated that the US case against Assange has dragged on so long that there was nothing to be gained by his continued incarceration.

Penny Wong, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, said in the Senate that Albanese had raised Assange's case with US President Joe Biden and UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak since coming to office in 2022 and that the government had offered Assange and his family consular support while he was imprisoned in the UK.

Biden said in April that he was considering a request from Australia to drop the prosecution of Assange over WikiLeaks' 2010 release of classified military records relating to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and diplomatic cables.

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