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Julian Assange: How he spent his first hours of freedom

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Julian Assange has not made any public statements since his release

Julian Assange spent yesterday in his native Australia, his first night as a free man after 14 years, although the opposition in the country today warned the government not to present the founder of WikiLeaks as a hero.

Assange landed in Canberra yesterday evening (local time), where his wife Stella and father John Shipton, as well as some of his supporters, were excitedly waiting for him. He had earlier pleaded guilty to violating espionage laws in US federal court on Saipan, an island in the Pacific Ocean. The judge then released him.

'He intends to taste real food'

Stella Assange said it is too early to say what he will do then Julian and asked that his privacy be respected. “Julian plans to swim in the ocean every day. He plans to sleep in a real bed.

He plans to taste real food and plans to enjoy his freedom,” he told reporters today. She also repeated her call for Assange to be pardoned by the American president.

The 17 charges were dropped

Assange's supporters and free speech advocates hail him as a hero for exposing illegal actions by the US military, including in Afghanistan and Iraq, when WikLeaks published thousands of classified military and diplomatic documents in 2010.

However. the US government has long complained that this action was reckless and put people's lives at risk. Assange has not made any public statements since his release.

During the night a judge in the US state of Virginia officially dropped the remaining 17 charges pending against him, for which he was in danger of being sentenced to up to 175 years imprisonment.

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Assange supporters and free speech advocates consider him a hero

The Australia – USA relationship

Australian MPs have been calling for Assange's release for years, with his case being one of the few causes of tension in Australia-US bilateral relations. “For some time now the imprisonment of Julian Assange has been a thorn in the side of this relationship,” said Andrew Wilkie, an independent MP co-chairman of the parliamentary committee advocating Assange's release. “Now that has been fixed and therefore I see no reason not to be optimistic about the bilateral relationship. The thorn came out,” he added.

Assange remained locked up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London for seven years to avoid extradition to Sweden where he was accused of sexual assault. This category was withdrawn. Five years ago he was forcibly removed from the embassy and taken to Belmars maximum security prison, until the British judiciary considers the US request to extradite him to the country.

'No witness'

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, who had backed Assange's release before becoming prime minister in 2022, welcomed him with a phone call. “We had a very heated conversation,” he said. However, the conservative opposition expressed its concerns that Assange is being portrayed as a hero.

The leader of the opposition in the Senate, Simon Birmingham, welcomed the release of the WikiLeaks founder, but added to X that “he is not a witness and has never been a political prisoner who has been denied access to justice”.

He warned Albanese not to meet with Assange and estimated that his release could cause tension in Australia's relations with the US. Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong told ABC radio that Assange's release did not pose a threat to Australia-US bilateral relations.

The State Department announced yesterday that its involvement in Assange's case was very limited. and reiterated his position that the actions of the WikiLeaks founder endangered human lives, although the American judge before whom he appeared said that no people were harmed by the release of the classified documents.

The White House stressed that it had no involvement in the case, according to National Security spokesman John Kirby, who added that the matter is a matter for the Justice Department.

Source: 24h.com.cy

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