As Assange Goes Free, Wife Seeks Presidential Pardon

Stella Assange also hopes to raise $500K to cover the cost of flights
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 25, 2024 6:29 AM CDT
As Assange Goes Free, Wife Seeks Presidential Pardon
Stella Assange, wife of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, leaves the High Court in London, Monday, May 20, 2024.   (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

Julian Assange is expected in his home country of Australia on Wednesday after 14 years confined in the UK, though his wife is still in doubt. "When I have him in front of me and I can take him and hug him and then it will be real," lawyer Stella Assange said from Sydney, per Reuters. "Until it's fully signed off, I worry, but it looks like we've got there." Indeed, she says she has not yet told the couple's two children, aged 5 and 7, per the Guardian. "All I told them was that there was a big surprise."

After pleading guilty to conspiring to obtain and disclose classified US national defense documents at a court in the Northern Mariana Islands at 11pm GMT Tuesday, the Wikileaks founder will be sentenced to the 62 months he has already spent in prison. He will then return to Australia at a cost of $500,000, according to his wife. The 52-year-old Assange left the UK's Belmarsh Prison on Monday before boarding on a private jet from charter firm VistaJet. The plane touched down in Bangkok around 5am GMT Tuesday for refueling, reports the London Standard. It will then continue to Saipan in the Northern Mariana Islands and on to Canberra.

Though she's "elated," Stella Assange noted "it's Australian policy that he will have to pay his own return flight" and that fundraising would be required. She also said she would seek a presidential pardon for her husband. "The fact that there is a guilty plea under the Espionage Act ... is obviously a very serious concern for journalists and national security journalists in general," she said. Many press freedom advocates see the charge as a threat to free speech, per Reuters. (More Julian Assange stories.)

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