WikiLeaks founder Assange en-route to final US court hearing ahead of release

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been released from prison in Britain and is set to face a final court hearing after reaching a plea deal with US authorities that brings his long legal drama to a close.

WikiLeaks announced that Julian Assange was freed on bail from prison in London, where he had been held for five years while he fought extradition to the United States, which sought to prosecute him for revealing military secrets.

He flew out of London on Monday to travel to the Northern Mariana Islands – a US territory in the Pacific – where he will plead guilty to a single count of conspiracy to obtain and disseminate national defence information, according to a court document.

A charter plane carrying the 52-year-old reportedly landed in Bangkok on Tuesday for a scheduled refuelling stop before flying to Saipan, capital of the US territory where Assange is due in court on Wednesday morning.

He is expected to be sentenced to five years and two months in prison, with credit for the same amount of time spent behind bars in Britain.

According to Assange's wife Stella, he would be a "free man" after the judge signs off on the deal, thanking supporters who have campaigned for years for his release.

She added the end of the long legal drama had brought a "whirlwind of emotions".

The court in the Northern Mariana Islands was chosen because of Assange's unwillingness to go to the continental United States, and because of the territory's proximity to his native Australia.

The victims included two Reuters journalists.

Read more on RFI English

Read also:
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to seek political asylum in France
Wikileaks’ Assange sentenced to prison for skipping bail
US slaps Assange with 17 new charges including violating Espionage Act