The U.S. recognized the five years Assange spent in a London prison and allowed him to return to Australia without serving further jail time.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange returned to his home country of Australia on Wednesday aboard a charter plane hours after pleading guilty to obtaining and publishing U.S. military secrets.

Assange’s plane arrived in the Australian capital Canberra from the Northern Mariana Islands, where he pleaded guilty before a U.S. district court to conspiring to illegally obtain and disseminate classified information in 2010.

The U.S. court recognized the five years he spent in a London prison fighting his extradition to the United States and allowed him to return to Australia without serving further jail time.

“After nearly 14 years of arbitrary detention in the UK, and 5 years in a maximum security prison for his groundbreaking work, Julian Assange has returned home to Australia,” WikiLeaks stresses on its X account.

Assange, who is expected to be met at the airport by his wife, Stella Assange, and their two children, is scheduled to hold a press conference at a hotel in the Australian capital in a couple of hours, his first appearance in front of the media since his release from prison in the UK on Monday.

The 52-year-old Australian activist, journalist and “hacker” appeared early Wednesday in U.S. federal court in the Northern Mariana Islands on Saipan, where Magistrate Judge Ramona Villagomez agreed to terms agreed between the U.S. Department of Justice and Assange’s defense.

Under the agreement, under which Assange pleaded guilty today to conspiring to obtain and disclose classified U.S. documents, Villagomez sentenced Assange to 62 months in prison, recognizing time already served in Belmarsh High Security Prison in the United Kingdom, and he was released.

The Australian’s defense requested to hold the hearing in this U.S. territory because of its proximity to Australia and because Assange did not wish to travel to continental U.S. soil.

This episode ends a 14-year saga that began in 2010 with the largest leak of classified documents in U.S. history, revealing attacks on civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as the mistreatment of prisoners in Guantanamo, among other issues.

Following the leak, Sweden issued a warrant for his arrest on charges of sexual abuse, which were later dropped. Assange took refuge in 2012 in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, until 2019 when he was arrested by British authorities, spending the last five years in a high-security prison.

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