Assange’s return to Australia a ‘huge win for free speech’, says lawyer

The family and lawyer of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange held a press conference on Wednesday after his return to his home country of Australia following a plea deal with the US government. Assange's lawyer Jennifer Robinson described his release as a "huge win for free speech".

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange returned to his homeland Australia aboard a charter jet on Wednesday, hours after pleading guilty to obtaining and publishing US military secrets in a deal with Justice Department prosecutors that concludes a drawn-out legal saga.

The criminal case of international intrigue, which had played out for years, came to a surprise end in a most unusual setting with Assange, 52, entering his plea in a US district court in Saipan, the capital of the Northern Mariana Islands. The American commonwealth in the Pacific is relatively close to Assange’s native Australia and accommodated his desire to avoid entering the continental United States.

Assange had flown from a London prison to Saipan in a charter jet and flew in the same aircraft to the Australian capital Canberra on the same day.

He was accompanied on the flights by Australian Ambassador to the United States Kevin Rudd and High Commissioner to the United Kingdom Stephen Smith, both of whom played key roles in negotiating his freedom with London and Washington.

'A huge win for free speech'

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